Cynthia Drake

I'm a freelance writer based in Michigan who grew up hearing lots of savings mantras, such as, "Watch the pennies, and the dollars take care of themselves," from my dad, who grew up in an era when people were distrustful of the newly emerging credit card companies. In addition to inheriting his love of a good bargain, I took his advice to heart to live within my means and always pay off my credit card balances.

As a financial writer, I love uncovering the quirky, offbeat stories, whether it’s credit card designs that never made it to market or the latest tips for wrapping a gift card. You can also catch me in regular video features for

Posts by Cynthia Drake

Living with credit, Protecting yourself

Tread lightly while making travel plans through Craigslist

About a month before our travels to Texas and Florida, I received a phone call from the leasing agent with whom I’d arranged to rent a furnished apartment for two weeks during our Texas stay.
The purpose of the call was to firm up the details of our trip. I had already paid a security deposit on the apartment in Fort Worth, which I had originally found through a Craigslist ad.
“Can I go ahead and charge the same card for your remaining balance?” the leasing agent asked.
I paused.
Something didn’t sit right with me about paying for a two-week stay prior to even seeing the apartment in person, but it was difficult to formulate my objection in such a way that I didn’t sour the entire transaction.
“I’d really rather wait to pay the balance until I see the apartment,” I said. “Normally when you stay in a hotel, you aren’t charged until you arrive …”
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Living with credit, Protecting yourself

Putting our cards to the test while traveling

It used to be a standard piece of credit card management advice was to notify your card issuer if you’re traveling, so that your purchase of a bike pump in Poughkeepsie wouldn’t trigger a sudden shutdown of your credit card.

the midst of a three-week vacation to Texas and Florida, I decided to engage in a little subversive credit card test on that old saw. We didn’t notify our credit card issuer that we were on the road. Here’s how it went.
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