Even before I received my first credit card earlier this month, I had decided how I was going to use it. Pay for 1 thing (my cell bill) and then pay it off. Wise commentors reminded me to be sure to pay it off after the bill is posted and sent.
Here’s how it’s gone so far:
1) A couple days after getting the card, I set up my account with Capital One so that I can pay my bills online. I wanted to get a bank account linked ahead of time. Looks like that has all worked out.
About that experience, it was a lot harder to get the account set up than it should have been. Midway through, it would suddenly find itself unable to contact the server. Fortunately, if I went back a step, reloaded, and clicked forward it worked. Real hassle, though. I just decided to try that before calling customer service. Glad it worked.
We’re sorry, but our system experienced an error while processing your request. Please try again later. If the problem continues, please contact us at 1-800-955-7070 (U.S. customers) or 1-800-481-3239 (Canadian customers). We’re here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Mildly helpful since it had the numbers, but they need server support even more than Twitter does. At least Twitter is a FREE non-business site.
2) A few days after than and a few before it was due (as always), I logged into my cell provider account and paid the bill. This time, I used my new card.
Everything went smoothly.
3) I easily logged in to my C1 account a couple days after that and checked it out. The first billing hasn’t yet posted, but the transaction has registered. It’s so cute, I have less than $500 of available credit. I look at it and then I look at my bank account and ask why I’d use credit for anything…my freelance cushion is fine for emergencies. And it’s more than $500.
Logging in was smooth this time, though the third time I came back, I got the error message above two times before it accepted my password. And I checked, it’s a different error message than if you put in the wrong password…that returned a standard “The password you have entered does not match…” response.
4) So now I’m keeping tabs on it to catch it the moment it becomes due. Then I’ll pay it in full. I’ve also decided to receive paper statements as well (it was an opt-OUT, fortunately, so this took no effort on my part) because I don’t quite trust their website’s up-time. I’d probably pay by phone if the site wouldn’t work but I like the backup. Can’t have too much backup, at least right now.
I’ll let you know when I’ve paid it off.
Next month should be much smoother and less nervous on my part. I don’t fear using the card irresponsibly, what I feel is more like the apprehension of someone on a first date. You’ve probably thought a million times about what going on a date with this person would be like. You have some general frameworks for behavior at restaurant, who pays, etc. But you’re still nervous because you haven’t actually gone on a date with this person before. Dates with Micah don’t make me nervous. Evidence to the contrary, networking meetings and the like do.
Edit: Micah suggests this could also be compared to riding the DC metro for the first time. You’ve got your map and fare (or SmarTrip) and “know” your station, but it’s still an adventure if you’re not used to metro systems.
Once I get used to how everything works, once I’ve used all parts of the system, I’ll be a lot less nervous and know better about when to check in, pay it, what to expect, etc. But I’ll stay on my toes. Because like friends, husbands, jobs, and anything else we become comfortable with, credit cards can suddenly change on you.