Out with the old, in with the new

I’m sitting in front of my document shredder. I’m wondering if it really shreds cards like the box said it would. I hold the card, and “Old Yeller” comes to mind.

Kevin Wilson

Kevin Wilson

Monday was the final day I held ************1124, as it came to be known online. It was my rewards credit card, with a sea of blue and raised numbers and “KEVIN D WILSON.”

When you get excited about a credit card’s rewards, that’s when you become old and boring. I still remember sitting at a coffee shop hearing some young people around my age talking about this awesome card. I wondered, “Do you get Amazon store credit? Free airline miles? Are there blackout dates if there are airline miles?” I kept listening and found out they were talking about Pokemon. Sigh … coffee for one and some bifocals, please.

I know it’s odd to have an emotional attachment to a credit card.

• I’ve had credit cards before that I maxed out, despite my home economics teacher telling us over and over the gold rule of credit: Only borrow what you can pay back. After we turned in our exams, my friend laughed. “I completely blew that test. I wrote down that the golden rule of credit was, ‘It’s not as good as it sounds.’”

• I’ve had credit cards that stayed dormant for months as “emergency only” cards. It’s not the best feeling in the world to know it comes with double-digit interest, but there’s nothing like knowing in a pinch I can instantly access five figures. My previous answer to that question was, “Work for a year, and don’t buy ANYTHING.”

But this card was different, because it forced me to balance the rewards against the interest if I wasn’t able to pay it off. What good is it to earn $5 in rewards when my balance accumulates $9 in interest? The house always wins.

It’s worked for me because I’ve gone by my golden rule of credit: Don’t use the credit card for anything you wouldn’t use your cash to buy. It’s not as disciplined as Dave Ramsey (only pay in cash), but it’s worked.

It got me the best camera I ever owned. It got me some nice formal wear, and enough ties to make picking a good outfit easy. Rewards points bought my best friend’s birthday present. It saved my skin when I’d lost my debit card on Day 2 of a four-day trip to see a Rangers-Angels series. Bills I’d pay anyway went on the card. Its final purchase was sushi, chicken and shrimp so I could spend an extra hour with my nominee for prettiest girl in the world.

All good things come to an end, which I didn’t know when I bought $5.24 in mint M&Ms and other stuff at Target, smack dab in the middle of what would become a security breach. I’m mad at Target, because I had to change out my card numbers for just about everything, but I also know that could have happened to a dozen other large merchants.

The balance for ************1124 will be paid off in full on this paycheck, with plenty of extra money to spare. And it has been replaced by my new card, which I’ll call ************4298.

I’m at the shredder, giving “Old Blue Yeller” one last goodbye. I’m putting him down 15 months ahead of his true expiration date. I’m sure I’ll be OK, just as sure as this shredder can handle a blue piece of plastic

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Clovis Media Inc. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 319, or by email:

kwilson@cnjonline.com