Confession: I Got Another Credit Card

So yesterday I went to the mall in hopes of finding some shirts for fall. After five hours of shopping, I drove home $15 poorer after buying only a bracelet and a pair of earrings (because jewelry is one size fits all!). Shopping for clothes at 140 pounds is vastly different than when I weighed 100 - I have a horrible time finding shirts that don’t make me look like a cow. The jewelry, while cute, was a perfect example of emotional spending - I felt like crap because I couldn’t find clothes, so I bought other stuff to make myself feel better. Not a good idea!

Anyway, while I was trying on clothes and feeling disgusted, I noticed a hole in the side of my bra. Like, a really big hole. I tried to remember how long I’d owned that particular bra and couldn’t. I have about 7 of the exact same one in different colors - they’re from a (now discontinued) Victoria’s Secret line that I absolutely loved. In college. Like 10 years ago. Okay, I told myself. Time to break down and replace these things before they disintegrate.

When I got home, I logged into the Victoria’s Secret account I haven’t touched in years and started looking for new bras that might be as comfortable as the old ones. I found one that looks promising, so I added it to my cart. If it works, I can slowly start replacing my old ones (SUPER slowly, because they’re expensive!). Then of course I couldn’t pass up the 5/$25.50 deal, so I added 5 pairs of underwear to my cart as well.

During the checkout process, I got a popup telling me I was preapproved for a Victoria’s Secret credit card. Honestly I was shocked - back when I had a billion credit cards (and good credit), I couldn’t get approved for one to save my life. I couldn’t help but allow them to run a credit check to see if I would actually get one.

Approved! $250 limit.

But you just paid off your credit cards!

Yep, and I don’t intend to take on any more credit card debt. But more available credit will help my crappy credit score improve, so I did accept the VS card and use it to purchase my stuff. As soon as the card arrives and I’m able to access my account online, I’ll pay off the balance and put the card away.

Store credit cards are among the most evil devices ever invented. The interest rates are ridiculous. They use underhanded tactics (deals for cardholders only, reward points that give you ten bucks after you spend hundreds) to get you to keep using the cards. The limits stay low in hopes that you’ll max out the card and never pay it off.

The thing is, I’ve played this game before. At the peak of my spending frenzy, I had probably 15 store cards and carried balances on all of them. I actually played card roulette - I would close my eyes, shuffle the cards, and choose one. Then I would go to that particular store and spend money just because I was “bored” or wanted some new stuff. It was madness.

But the difference now is that I know the dangers and I’m not tempted to buy things I don’t need anymore. I mean, I’m only buying new bras because mine are so old they’re falling apart - it’s not like I’m suddenly going to spend hundreds of dollars on underwear. And I will use the card periodically to buy what I need (nothing more), then pay it off. If I don’t have the money in the bank, I won’t be buying anything no matter how many holes are in my bras.

I’m finally learning that credit cards can work for me. But this is only possible because I FINALLY figured out that credit cards aren’t free money. If you’re using credit to pay for the things you need because you can’t afford them otherwise, that means you can’t afford them. Period.

28 Responses to “Confession: I Got Another Credit Card”

  1. Shaun Fowler says:

    Good for you!

    I started out in credit card debt myself, paid them off and learned my lesson. And, once I'd achieved all of this, I went out and began using credit cards wisely, which is smart. If you can responsibly use credit you can earn rewards, deals and improve your credit score.

  2. Jolyn Myers says:

    "Danger, Will Robinson, danger Will Robinson." Google that if you need to because I am showing my age, but I had to share what my mind started chanting when I read your article. Bras, yes. (And shame on them for being so expensive.) (I could use a new pair myself.) (Hate. shopping. for bras.) Even underwear. But please be careful of the credit cards making a hole in your pocket! You've come so far. Just wondering if it's a good idea to give the recovering gambler access to a slot machine… But am LOVING your transparency. I get the intellectual argument. Just not sure if it's emotionally sound. :-)

    • I totally get what you're saying - even the Will Robinson part (you're not THAT old!). I feel okay about it though. I have three credit cards in my wallet, all of which have a zero balance. I won't say I've never thought about using them, but it's easy to talk myself out of it. A big difference has been actually having money in the bank to do what I need to do, because I keep track of my spending now and have made efforts to cut.
      I'm not even going to carry the VS one. Once I get it, it's going in the envelope in my closet where I keep emergency cash. I can't think of any reason I would have an underwear emergency, but even if I did, I'd buy some at Walmart!

  3. Insomniac Lab Rat says:

    I agree that store cards can be evil (I have a lot of friends who have gotten in trouble with them), but they can also be useful to build credit. Victoria's Secret wouldn't give me one in college when I had very little credit, but I have a card from another store that didn't care that I had no credit. I never carried a balance on it, but used it every time I went to that store (for stuff I was going to buy anyway), and paid it off immediately. Hubby did the same thing, and it helped both of us build some credit. Of course, neither of us has an overspending tendency, so it wasn't so scary.

    Anyway, I think it sounds like a good idea, as long as you don't overspend with it, it will help!

  4. Pajesh says:

    FYI..jewelry is NOT one size fits all.

  5. Kevin says:

    If I remember my sister's extended rant about VS, it is impossible or impractical to pay their card online.  The preferred method is to pay it in the store.  That might be different now but I remember her complaining all the way to the mall once because she was only going to pay off the card.

    As a degenerate gambler, I have a different definition of "credit card roulette."  In the version I was aware of you have 2 or more people.  Say they all go out to eat dinner.  At the end of the meal, everyone throws their credit card into a hat or some other receptacle.  One card is then drawn out at random (either by an involved party or the waiter… whomever) and that person pays the entire bill instead of having it split.  I think I like your version better — as long as we're using your cards.  I seem to run bad at the version I know.  ;-)

  6. Daniel says:

    I am a bit surprised that you went to open up a line of credit. You could have looked for discount gift cards to Victoria's Secret online, purchased them, and then restocked your underwear for far less without using "credit".

    • I didn't spend any more than I would have spent with my debit card. I didn't initiate the purchase planning to open a line of credit; I was going to just pay from my bank account. And I'm going to pay off the purchase in full. So I'm a little confused about why using credit was such a bad thing - that's one more plus on my credit report, and I get rewards for using the card. Is it different somehow because I'm not gaining airlines points or one of the "acceptable" rewards that PF bloggers seem to love? I'm not trying to be bitchy; I just don't understand what is so bad about what I did. It's not like I'm acquiring new debt.

  7. Shannyn @frugalbeaut says:

    I love the VS credit card.  I admit, like with any CC you have to be oober careful you don't get sucked into overspending because they send you such great deals- one being FREE UNDIES with NO purchase necessary.  For awhile there they only gave out frumpy undies (the plain cotton one) but they have sent me email and coupons in the mail for free undies in their Pink line as well as their other collections so you don't end up with one entire drawer of the same kind of panty.  They also give me great discounts and lots of wonderful promos that sometimes don't require a purchase.

    I have their card and love it…and I know what you mean about emotional spending…I went out and bought clothes because I was feeling horrible about my ill fitting wardrobe.  Luckily though, as I think we've learned…a little emotional spending is fine (feeling like crapola might be an indicator you need a shopping day to take care of yourself and schedule some 'me time,')  but there's a cutoff.  A few new items to accomodate a change in size, change in lifestyle or new job, etc…is fine, but going on a binge is another!  

    You are going to look hot! :)  

  8. Red says:

    Ha ha! It's so funny how differently women can feel about their weight. You said "shopping at 140 pounds," and I'm finishing the sentence internally with "would be a dream for me." But our bodies are all built so differently. I'd be in a 6 at 140 and would feel stupendous!

    I fantasize about someday owning one of those rewards cards (specifically the Amazon rewards Visa) and paying it off in full every month. But I messed up so royally with credit cards the first time around (and Victoria's Secret was one of them) that I'll be taking it very slowly. I feel a little anxious for you, because I don't think someone who openly admits to having a problem with emotional spending being someone who should open new credit accounts. But I say that out of concern and through the lens of being someone who royally screwed up with credit cards the first time around. Only you know if you're truly ready or not. :)

    • I understand the concern, but I don't worry about this one because buying underwear is something I never had a problem with. (As evidenced by my antique bras with holes.) Now if it was an Amazon card, I would be an idiot. That thing would be maxed out in five seconds flat. But I felt safe choosing VS because I only buy underwear when I absolutely have to, I don't really like any of their lotions or perfumes, and I'm not into the PINK or other clothing lines at all. Out of all the cards I could pick, I think this was a good one.
      I also opened a Capital One Visa not long ago - I used it to order my business cards, then immediately paid it off. Haven't touched it since, and haven't felt tempted. A big part of my spending problem was wanting things I couldn't afford, and now I've paid off enough debt to be able to afford a few things. Not the level of buying stuff I was at before, but a few things. :)

  9. B Kelly @Moneymaster says:

    I went down that very same slippery slide many years back and took many more years to pay it off! Learnt my lesson - still using cards though.. but now it's controlled and the points and promotions are wonderful

  10. Andrea says:

    YAY for new underwear! In all honesty though I HATE HATE HATE underwear shopping, so hard to find a proper fit!  I was in a VS outlet in Florida last year, had a blast… love that place. Hopefully you will be able to handle the card responsibly, we'll try to keep you in check if you don't

  11. Mutant Supermodel says:

    Ok too funny similarity we can console each other over.I've always been SKINNY as heck. As a matter of fact, two years ago when my ex and i split i was working out like a mad woman and was down to a size 0! WELL. My size 4 pants have been really uncomfortable and painful, marking my skin like crazy. I finally went clothes shopping this weekend with some birthday money. My new pants are sizes 6 and 8. I've NEVER had to try on clothes the way I did this weekend and I've never been this size either. I'm also 140 and am 5'4. I know technically I'm healthy and my boyfriend LOVES my curves but it's a major adjustment for me. Shopping is a very different experience these days that's for sure.

    • So glad I'm not alone! I feel guilty complaining about being a size 8, but it's hard when I spent the years from 13-24 wearing a 0 or 2 (even after giving birth!). I used to love buying clothes and now it's depressing. I'm actually buying MORE clothes because nothing fits or looks right, but I'm definitely not enjoying it!

  12. Jpkittie says:

    if you can do it right, it can be great for your score - STAY STRONG :)

  13. MommaStar says:

    Ohh those little buggers got you at your most vulnerable state but what they don't know is that you're 10x smarter then they are! This time around it's them being used by you vs them using you.

  14. Lindy Mint says:

    I've never been an emotional spender (just an emotional eater), so I can't speak to that point.  But I know that once I made the mental shift that credit cards are not to be messed around with, I wasn't afraid of credit anymore. I'll use them on occasion, when it's convenient, but only when I know I can go straight home and pay off the balance right away. 

    I'm hearing the same in this post from you too. I'm not worried for you. You got it together. :)

    PS: shopping for clothes. Blerg. Hasn't been fun since before I had kids, seven years ago.


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