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When Is It OK To Get A Credit Card?

It's 2017 and we're all skint. We're at that stage in our lives when we have a lot going on and a lot to pay for, like networking, maintaining a social life, paying bills, council

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It’s 2017 and we’re all skint. We’re at that stage in our lives when we have a lot going on and a lot to pay for, like networking, maintaining a social life, paying bills, council tax… Netflix. The Bank of Mam and Dad is officially closed – which we’re happy about because we’re strong, independent women. But we’re skint. What do we do? Where do we go? One of my friends has just got a credit card which is 0% APR for 30 months. I don’t know what that means but it sounds good. But then, we’ve all heard terrible, disastrous things about credit cards. You’ll run in to loads of debt! You’ll end up on the streets! You’ll end up on ‘the game’!* But when you’re stood in an Aldi queue, counting your very last penny to see if you can afford food for the next two weeks, you start to wonder: when is it OK to get a credit card?

*This was actually a quote from my mother. When I questioned if it was like ITV’s ‘The Cube’, she looked at me funny, “prostitution, Hannah!”

So as I count my coins in the Aldi queue – I have £9.30, it should cover my groceries – Cashier Number 7 calls me over.
Him: “would you like a bag?”
shit! Why didn’t I count for this?
Me: “errr, yes please, just a normal one though”
as he scans my items, I quickly bag-up, keeping one eye on my packing and one eye firmly on the screen with the total
Him: “are you paying cash or card today?”
Me: [awkwardly laughs] oh, it depends how much it comes to
I say it with confidence, like I’ve got change in my purse, but I’ve also got a ton of money in the bank. Then I start to sweat…
Please let it be £9.30 or less
Him: on a tight budget are we?
YOU CHEEKY FUCKER!


A moment or two goes by while I try and think of a cool way to handle this sort of embarrassment. I get over myself, and I get over the fact that I’m poor AF. Brazenly, I start to talk about my financial situation, and myself and Cashier Number 7 bond over the fact that, he too, is stone-broke. And if you’re wondering my shopping came to a sum-total for £9.18 [internal jump for joy].

But why are we? Why are we all counting each pound? Restricting ourselves from Aldi’s finest meatballs, and having to make a choice between £2.69 parmesan and £2.09 spinach? What if I want a spinach and parmesan salad? I could buy both if I had a credit card. I could even buy rocket, tomatoes, and chicken! We all know, however, that having a credit card is so much more than being able to afford the ingredients for a Caesar salad. It’s about being independent, in control and having a sort of ‘togetherness’; it’s about being smart with your spending, only using it when you really need to, and knowing you’ll pay it back on time.

However, the next big question stands. How do I know I’m ready for a credit card? What if I don’t have my shit together? I certainly know I’m not good with money, and if that’s the case I’m probably going to go wild. I’ll end up booking a holiday to Ibiza and buying those sassy, fluffy Gucci slipper-shoes – then I’ll be even more broke and probably on ‘the game’.

So let’s break it down.

Pros:

You’ll finally feel independent.
You won’t go hungry.
It’s convenient (should my Aldi bill have came to £9.31).
It’s cheaper than an overdraft.

Cons:

It’s easy to get carried away.
You might forget to pay your debts.
Identity theft.
It’s [usually] super high interest rates.

If you feel more scared of the cons than you feel excited about the pros, then you’re certainly not ready to get a credit card. However, if the cons are nothing to you, and you know you’ll be able to control yourself while walking past Selfridges window, then my dear, you are ready. Embrace your new-found independent glory. You are now a woman!

hannah@theblackandwhiteedit.co.uk

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