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September 19, 2011


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Tom Sightings

I had an airline miles credit card once, but it didn't work for me. Maybe I don't spend enuf. money? Anyway, I don't like to fly, and so the "payoff" didn't seem that great to me. I stick with my regular credit cards, which give me 1% back on all purchases, and 5% back on select items. It adds up, and it's nice to just be able to deduct $50 from your credit card bill every few months.

Your email alert is probably a good idea. I only ever had one credit card problem, several years ago, and the bank knew about it before I did. My card was refused at a restaurant when I was taking some kids out to dinner for a celebration. It was pretty embarrassing! Fortunately, I had another card. And I did not have to pay for the audio equipment someone was trying to buy on my card outside Philadelphia.

But you never know, so maybe I'll sign up for he alert. Thanks for the tip!


Wow! Amazing story.


Clearly I don't spend enough on my CC... All I get is some stupid gift cards at Xmas! Not a bad deal though, since it amounts to maybe $400 or so per year anyway.

Seriously though, I had one of my CC's duplicated (I think at a restaurant) a couple of years ago. What. A. Mess. Not only that, but it made me paranoid enough that I went cash only for a number of months. Now I am very careful in restaurants to either only pay cash - or to keep my eye on my CC at all times. Apparently it's easy to just take a photo of your card and dupe it. Who knew?

With my CC, they reduced my limit arbitrarily (oh the shame) and had a "pending resolution" on there for a number of months. What annoyed me the most was that there didn't seem to be any intention to criminally investigate this perpetrator.


FYI - mine was someone getting gift cards at a store once a day - every day - for $75 a pop. And little things like parking for 25 cents?!?! If I wasn't one of those people who look at their balance on line every couple of days, it would have totally slipped by me for more than a month - not just the few days it took for me to tell the CC company - Hello? Do something? It still took them several days to put a stop on my card.


It is stories like these (and from some people I know) which is why I so rarely use any plastic for purchases. I don't think any cash-back is worth the aggravation. It is also easier for me to keep track of my spending by not using the plastic.

I use my CC maybe 4-6 times per year (and my debit card maybe once or twice a year). So far this year, I have used it twice for $110. I use cash for nearly all of my purchases, saving my CC for larger purchases or to act as a safety net, not as my primary means of buying stuff.


The 99 cent charge is often a "test" for the thief to see if it will work, and a major charge comes later. At one point in my life as an extreme couponer I was making lots of less than five dollar purchaes for items that were free except for shipping and the alert came up immediately.

That said, I use a debit card for all my purchses rather thatn credit, and check my bank as part of my daily routine at least once a day/

Retired Syd

@Jacq: I failed to mention that we also read all the offers that come in those big thick envelopes that look like trash from the mileage card folks. We've opened accounts at e-trade, or somewhere like that, for an extra 50k miles, we've stayed at hotels and rented cars that offer miles on our account, even opened and closed other credit accounts to earn miles. Believe me, looking for (and acting on) all those offers is a full-time job!

@Barb: I heard that 99 cent thing from our credit card company too, that it is a test. But still, how they focus on that rather than 10k in charges (which is way more than we EVER charge in a month!) is beyond me. Seems total dollar amount should be as big a red flag as those test charges! Funny, huh?


I will echo the benefit of reading the offers that arrive in the mail, which I used to ignore thinking it was too much of a hassle. I have changed my mind. Our base card pays 2% cash back, but we have obtained hotel and airline cards to get the special deals, which has resulted in 3 free airline tickets, one of which was international travel, and 10 free hotel nights.

We have had fraud charges on our cards, and the card company was very prompt in removing the charges, cancelling the card, and issuing a new one.

I am not a fan of debit cards. If there is fraud I'd much rather deal with the credit card company on whether I am responsible for the charges (I'm not yet out of pocket because I haven't paid anything for a fraud charge) instead of the bank on whether I get my money back (when there is fraud in your bank account, poof the money is gone until the bank decides to credit your account). Just my preference.

Colin Webb

I completely agree about staying away from debit cards. Debit cards pull your money out of your account immediately and what a hassle that would be to deal with trying to your own money back after it has been removed from ones account due to fraud. Credit cards are a great way to make purchases as credit card companies are willing and prepared to deal with fraud. Unfortunately credit card fraud is a part of life. Credit cards are also a great way to earn rewards but I can't stress enough you have to be disciplined with credit cards. Undisciplined credit card debt can rip the life out of your finances. Be smart and understand your credit terms and most importantly your cash flow.

fred doe

the miles sound great because if you read your blog you know that's a big part of retirement. have a good trip to sydney. (wait? syd, sydney no! that couldn't be why you pick it.) may your jet lag pass quickly. 2000 packs of rolling papers? they should be easy to find. just drive around virginia beach and look for the person passed out on some ones lawn?( i'm not even touching the birkenstocks:)

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