This stupid credit card mistake cost me $ 95
In the summer of 2019, I made the decision to apply for a travel rewards credit card. The reason? I was planning on doing quite a bit of travel not just in the coming months, but throughout 2020.
The card in question came with an annual fee of $ 95, but I decided to apply despite that. First of all, these fees were waived in the first year. But even with the fees, based on my plans, I knew I would earn more than enough reward points to make that $ 95 worth paying. Plus, my card had perks like free checked baggage and other amenities designed to make traveling more enjoyable.
Well I used my travel card to book a few trips for 2020. But then the pandemic hit and those trips were canceled.
I have to admit, I received great customer service as I went through the process of getting my money and miles back for the flights I wouldn’t be taking. But then I made a stupid mistake – neglected to cancel my card on my first birthday. So now I’m forced to pay $ 95 for some perks that I won’t be able to enjoy.
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A flagrant waste of money
I like to think of myself as a fairly frugal person who is mindful of how she spends money, so losing $ 95 is a huge bummer. Is it a sum that changes my life? No it is not. But when I think of the things that $ 95 might buy me – a pack of groceries, a nice dinner out, or a fun outing with my kids (once it’s safe again) – it makes me feel good. so much more sorry to have done it. I didn’t close this account until my sophomore year.
To be fair, it was also an innocent mistake. When I signed up for the card, I never intended to cancel it after a year. On the contrary, I thought I would make good use of it. But I should have realized last summer that I wouldn’t be doing a lot of trips during the pandemic. If I had thought of unplugging the card, I would be $ 95 richer.
A better system for moving forward
In the end, it wasn’t a shattering blunder, but it did help me implement a practice that was important to my finances. The next time I sign up for a credit card or service (like a streaming service, for example), I must mark the first birthday on my calendar and set a reminder one week before. That way I can re-evaluate that card or service and decide if I want to keep it.
Many of the services I use are renewed every year – for example, I pay an annual fee for a music streaming service and for an Amazon Prime subscription. Even if I don’t cancel these services, it’s a good idea to do an annual check-in and make sure I still need it. The alternative is to keep paying for something that I might not need or use and waste money in the process.
To be clear, the annual check-in rule isn’t as essential with credit cards that don’t charge an annual fee, as there’s nothing to lose by keeping them open. In fact, in some cases, keeping additional cards open is a good thing, as it can leave you with a higher total spending limit which helps your credit utilization rate stay low. But checking the things you pay for once a year is a smart practice. If I had used it, I might have treated myself to $ 95 worth of takeout this week instead of rushing into my kitchen to cook a series of dinners for my family.