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Your Take: What Was Your First Credit Card?

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I still remember getting my first credit card. It was an AT&T Universal card that still exists today, albeit in a different form. It was one of the first few days of school and I stopped by a desk outside of Doherty Hall at Carnegie Mellon. I signed up not because they were offering free t-shirts or food (they were offering free shirts, though pizza would’ve been more appealing) but because I thought I needed a credit card. As I was filling out the form, I was amazed at how much information the thing required and how they had scanners setup to scan our driver’s license. Looking back, and being a few years wiser, I’m absolutely stunned my identity wasn’t stolen. I think people in general are savvier now but in 1998, when I’m sure identity theft was still a huge business, people just wasn’t as aware of it.

The other amazing thing was I remember asking the guy what I should put into the “income” field, since I clearly had none. He told me to put $30,000 because that’s how much tuition was. First, tuition wasn’t $30,000 (it wasn’t that high, plus I had a ton of financial aid so it wasn’t our out of pocket cost). Second, that’s not income. I don’t get paid $30,000 a year. Either way, I was approved.

The best perk of the card was free long distance minutes every month, which meant free phone calls home. This was before I got a cell phone, which wasn’t until the following year, and long before Skype and other free tools. That card lasted about two years before I discovered cashback and started using a Discover Card (a card that I still have) almost exclusively.

What was your first credit card?

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35 Responses to “Your Take: What Was Your First Credit Card?”

  1. MK says:

    Discover Card – it was the only card Texas A&M would accept for tuition payment at the time and I figured “Why not get some rewards out of something I need to pay for anyway?” Still have it but it may have gone inactive. Have used it in about 4 years.

  2. Roger Castro.Jr says:

    I was taught at an early age ” If you cannot pay cash or afford it then do not buy it”.
    Our consumer based social network has allowed itself to become slaves to creditors, some have signed their own death certificate. Many have taken their own live due to their mounting debt.
    I have been blessed to have never applied for CREDIT.
    Carry cash and invest in gold.

    • Matt says:

      I just got a VISA that I use as a charge card and get cash back with as well for my first card.

  3. Jim, My grandma gave me a department store credit card in high school. I never used it because I didn’t know if I would have to pay the bills or she would. Silly!

  4. Michael says:

    Not to be a downer in the party, but did anyone notice that the promoter advised Jim to falsify his income?

    Jim, I really like your posts and blog, but please consider caution, for your own sake, when posting stories of obtaining credit using untrue information.

  5. Huskervolleybfan says:

    I think our first credit card was a card with Sears. This would have been about 1965-1967. Our next card was a Sinclair card. Kind of fuzzy but that is my memory.

    Hard to believe how our use of money has changed.

  6. AP says:

    It was a Sears card…sent right out of college in 1981. Then came the Discover card.

  7. Amex Blue, and it’s still in my wallet. It hasn’t been my go to card for a long time, but I still use it every now and then to keep it active.

  8. admiral58 says:

    I got the Wells Fargo card almost 10 years ago. It was a terrible card, offering no points. I upgraded to a Visa Signature soon after

  9. admiral58 says:

    any new updates on deals for credit cards?


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