I got my first credit card in college, when I was about 18. At the time, I banked at Wells Fargo, and so got the most basic, no-frills credit card they offered. When I first got my card, I would check the balance online obsessively, at least once a week if not more (keep in mind the only thing I charged initially was gas, and I filled up my teeny, 400-miles-to-the-tank car about twice a month). I was terrified of letting anything sit on the card too long, because then I’d have to pay – say it ain’t so! – interest. That was probably my biggest fear at the time, the thought of having to pay more for something than the retail price just because I forgot to make my credit card payment.

Looking back, if you’re going to have an extreme mindset about credit cards, this is probably the best one to have. Because I was afraid to pay any interest, it didn’t occur to me that I could charge something to the card as an alternative to paying cash or using my debit card; I used a credit card because I knew I had to start building credit. I never used my credit card unless I had the money sitting in my checking account to pay for whatever it was I was buying, and keeping track of the balance on the card as well as paying the bill at least once a month quickly became a habit. Continue reading