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A couple weeks back, I started having a bit of trouble with my ATM card. Nothing big; occasionally, it would act up at the cash register and had to be run through a few times, and there were one or two occasions where the salesclerk had to enter the number on the card manually, or I had to pay cash 'cause that blasted card reader at the gas station was being a putz.

Gradually, I got into a situation where it was starting to fail everywhere I went, and "No, I can't enter the number manually, Miss," but it was such a slow decline it took me a while to think, "Gee, maybe I should order a new card." Which, it turns out, you can't do through the card services page of the bank's website, even when you're logged in. I had to actually go into the branch and talk to real humans.

So the card was ordered, but that takes 7-10 business days, and in the meantime, it's like I have no money. Oh, I can buy things willy-nilly with my cash card number over the internet, but I can't walk into a store and just grab something, take it up to the register, and pay for it.

Unless I pay credit.

Now, I am old enough to remember a time when, as a full-grown adult, there were no ATM machines or cash cards you could use at a store register. I got cash in college by going up to the window in the Registrar's Office and writing a check. The first cash-card readers in grocery stores appeared the year after I graduated with my PhD and that was the niftiest thing since sliced bread.

But now, I'm like a helpless bunny without my cash card. I'm panicked because I'm running out of gas and the banks aren't open yet so I can't cash a check and do those gas pumps take American Express? I don't even know!

Not to mention how creepy it feels to buy groceries with a credit card. My siblings and I were taught how to handle money growing up, but each of us had the special privilege of finding partners who didn't, who borrowed from Peter to pay Paul until they got themselves in under water, and there's some post-traumatic money stress syndrome there.

I hope my car doesn't clunk out before I get to the bank today.



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 15th, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC)
This is one of the reason I'm glad we still have checks in France. V. useful when your cash card fails you (I don't have a credit card, they're not all that widely used in France).
Nov. 15th, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)
Oh, I can write a check whereever I want. Some merchants prefer them. But I can't cash them at a bank that's not open yet.
Nov. 15th, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
Count me into the "brought up to manage money but had partner who couldn't" crowd. Plus almost no one uses cheques in Australia any more, everything is done online (payroll etc).
Hope you get your card soon.
Nov. 15th, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC)
I hadn't realized how dependent I was on the darned thing until I didn't have it anymore.
Nov. 15th, 2010 08:11 pm (UTC)
That's funny to me, because I use my credit card for *everything*--I get frequent flier miles that way, almost enough in a year for one round trip (and it's better for the store). If you pay off the balance each month, it costs you nothing. I don't really find much difference, except for the irritation of having to sigh for credit sometimes.

But you might find it good to have a second credit card that's more widely accepted, just in case this ever happens again. There are some no-fee ones out there still, I think.
Nov. 15th, 2010 09:48 pm (UTC)
I have a Visa from my bank, but stopped using it because the interest rate was so high. I actually shy away from using credit cards, well, ever, because in my 20's I had a few issues of my own with large balances. Came not from irresponsibility as much as grad student poverty, but I just don't like using any credit card if I can pay cash.
Nov. 15th, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC)
Can you transfer money into your credit account so that you're never in deficit? That way it's not really any different from using a debit card.
Nov. 15th, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC)
I'm keeping the credit card paid down. I just forget, 'cause I never use it otherwise.
Nov. 15th, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
The card must have been totally shot. I had to have my check-card reprogrammed once, and I did that in a matter of minutes with a helpful person at the bank.

I wasn't brought up to avoid using credit, but have very much grown into it. I can actually remember how thrilled my father was when his first bank-related credit cards arrived in the mail. They were Master Charge before the name change to Master Card! I have no idea when that was, but it was a long time ago.
Nov. 15th, 2010 10:33 pm (UTC)
I remember it being called MasterCharge. I still call it that, sometimes.
Nov. 16th, 2010 12:06 pm (UTC)
I generally wear out two debit cards and then get them replaced before the expiration date even arrives. I use it for almost everything.
Nov. 16th, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC)
Yep, think I just wore the durned thing out! ; )

Luckily, the new one arrived the very night I posted the wailing and nashing of my teeth.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )