Karen Haywood Queen

I still remember the embarrassment. It was 1983 and I was working as a cub reporter fresh out of the University of North Carolina and making little more than minimum wage. First I needed $170 — my weekly salary — in dental work. Next, I needed new tires for $175. I had no savings and no options. I charmed (OK I cried too) the dentist and the tire company into allowing me to pay $25 a week until I paid off my debts. There had to be a better way.

I built my credit history and got my first credit card, a Visa, on Jan. 9, 1987.

Since then, I have covered business and government for The Salisbury (North Carolina) Post and gone undercover as a teenage cruiser and underage drinker. I then moved to The Associated Press in Richmond, Virginia, where I covered business, state lawmakers and a prison riot (not so different from the state Legislature).

Now I’m the boss of myself. In addition to CreditCards.com, my work has appeared in AARP Bulletin, Bankrate.com, Better Homes and Gardens, Credit Union National Association magazines, Forbes.com and many other publications. I also teach piano and play in a jazz quintet. I live in Williamsburg, Virginia, with my husband and two nearly adult kids.

Posts by Karen Haywood Queen

Living with credit, Protecting yourself

Parade of mistakes sent my credit score tumbling

A few weeks into the new year, I’m dealing with a 6-year-old credit nightmare. The story in a nutshell: I co-signed for a card for my son, forgot about the account and lately I have been wrestling with my credit…
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Living with credit, Shopping

Money experts’ first credit card lessons

Do you remember your first credit card? I got my first card in January 1987, a Visa through Carolina Telco Federal Credit Union. I was four years out of college and hadn’t yet built up a savings account. I was…
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Living with credit, Protecting yourself

How a call to my card issuer saved me nearly $300 in interest

A good credit card payment history, automatic bill pay and a 1 a.m. phone call saved me nearly $300 in interest. Here’s what happened: I had my first, five-digit credit card bill after putting my daughter’s college tuition on my card. My…
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Protecting yourself

Guard the last 4 digits of your Social Security number – they may be all ID thieves need

A recent phone call I received about a financial account tested my “pay-dar” – my internal warning system for scammers out to make me pay by stealing my personal information – and taught me a new lesson about how to…
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Living with credit, Protecting yourself

Empty nest, full wallet? Not so fast

After 22 years, our nest emptied this summer when our son finished college and left for the Air Force and our daughter began college.  After wiping away a few tears, I put away the tissue and took out my calculator.…
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