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Your Take: What Was Your First Credit Card?

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?