I've steered clear of credit cards for a long, long time.
They sucked me in early, luring me to their sign up tables at a young and naive 18 or 19, waving t-shirts and water bottles and other trinkets to draw me in.
I signed up for a couple credit cards at a young age.
And it became trouble - the 300 dollar credit limit would get charged up, and then sit unpaid for months, accruing late fees, non payment fees and other charges.
Visa made a fortune off of a kid who signed up without a steady source of income.
I managed to pay off the card and extensive fees (there's something really wrong when you bill a college student $1200 for 300 bucks in charges) and cut those cards up for good years ago.
I've operated on a cash only basis ever since.
Trip to Europe - paid in cash. A nice wedding gift - paid in cash. A piece of jewelry to mark a special occasion - paid in cash.
There's some satisfaction in enjoying a trip, a meal or a piece of clothing knowing it's paid for.
The trouble is - I'm not really doing anything to build up my credit. What credit I do have (thanks to those bad credit cards and a few other indiscretions) is not so stellar, but I'm not really doing anything to turn it around.
My car payments are consistent - but that's all I've got going for me.
I signed up for a credit card this week. It's a secured card (I had to put 200 bucks towards it to ensure they had some money from me) through the same bank that my auto loan is through.
My plan is to use this card frequently, but in small doses.
$50 bucks a month in charges - $50 bucks a month in payments.
Hopefully my consistent payments will improve my credit score, and thereby improving my credit limit.
So maybe next time I need two grand to fix my car - I'll have another option.