After Traveling with a Credit Card, I’m Officially Screwed. Thanks, Mom.

After Traveling with a Credit Card, I’m Officially Screwed. Thanks, Mom.

My grandiloquent claims that “I’d be fine!” did not soothe my mother’s concern. Her words were cautious and careful, and she maintained a steady, warning tone.

“It’s all good, Ma!” I’d claim. “I’m 24 years old—I’m an adult and I’m pretty sure I can handle traveling with a credit card. The minimum payments are small. I’ll just make sure I budget appropriately.”

“What’s your budget anyway?” she’d ask.

I wasn’t really sure. I told her I’d figure it out when I got there.

I was leaving home with a one-way ticket to Australia and a shiny new credit card. Obviously, this was a suitable time to get one. With no steady income or particular life plans, this was clearly the perfect occasion to try to manage a good credit score.

Having never owned a credit card before, I felt grown-up, responsible and incredibly proud. I had all this free money that some bank decided I was mature enough to handle! And, after reading through countless contracts (my brain hurt from all the percentages), I managed to find, seemingly, the only card in existence that didn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

It’s okay, guys. Don’t worry. I had everything under control.

I got on my plane and (skipping a lot of hours here) arrived in Australia. When I checked into my hostel, I paid the remaining balance on my spanking new card. “Nice one! I haven’t even technically paid for this! I think I do that later or something. These MasterCard people are a bunch of suckers!”

I felt unencumbered! The world was mine. Scarface repeated in my memory: “Me? I want what’s coming to me. The world, chico, and everything in it!”

Well, I spent a lot of money on that trip, and to be honest with you, I did get the world and everything in it. These have been the most remarkable two and a half years of my life. I could not have asked for anything better.

But I’m still recovering from it. Having essentially been on holiday for two and a half years, the “spend it while you can” mindset leaves my dollars asunder. To make matters more difficult, my bank told me there was no way to make payments on this card from an Australian bank account. What could I do?

Sure, I could wire money to my mother every month and ask her to pay my card off for me, but a) that becomes very expensive, b) it’s a major hassle, and c) it proves her right. I couldn’t let that happen.

With no other feasible option, I just sort of…forgot about it.

Fast forward two years to the day I arrived home.

I stepped into my room and found two large shopping bags sitting on my bed, each stuffed with mail…a lot of mail. Actually, it was mostly just collection notices.

Oops.

I swear she had been plotting this. Okay, she did actually tell me when some important notices had arrived, and even scanned them and emailed them to me (I just couldn’t believe she figured out how to use the scanner!). My inbox has a habit of filling up quickly, and those notices ended up getting lost in the shuffle.

So, in no way did she prove herself right (it’s not really her style), but she actually, without saying a word, proved me very, very wrong (totally her style).

I’d just like to take this opportunity to say thanks, Mom.

Now, looking back, I realize there would have been a much easier way. Had I managed my finances a bit better, and if my bank account back home were still open, I could have been transferring funds back and forth and managing all my payments online. Instead I let my finances fall to the wayside. Big mistake.

So I went from having no credit to having bad credit, in what seemed like an instant. Although, it’s no big surprise. Especially for me.

I’ve learned a lot about the world in the past couple of years. I’ve learned of people, destinations, love, and the general idiosyncrasies of life. The biggest lesson I’ve had to learn, though, is not to screw your credit rating.

It kind of sucks.


READ NEXT: On Re-Entry and Reverse Culture Shock: Returning to the United States After 13 Months in Asia

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11 Responses to After Traveling with a Credit Card, I’m Officially Screwed. Thanks, Mom.

  1. Micamyx|Senyorita October 10, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    Uh oh. At least your mom now knows how to use the scanner. Hehe 😛

    • Jeremy Foster October 15, 2012 at 6:53 am #

      So true! At least something positive came of this whole experience!

  2. grasya October 10, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    good thing i dont have a credit card… and I dont plan to have one too

    • Jeremy Foster October 15, 2012 at 6:54 am #

      Haha you’re probably right. I would have been better off if I never got one in the first place!

  3. Susan October 15, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    BTW, I’ve got a few more notices to scan (though I’m not sure I can remember how) and send to you.

    • Jeremy Foster October 20, 2012 at 10:30 am #

      Hahaha stick with it–I’m sure you’ll figure it out 😛

  4. dani January 11, 2013 at 3:48 am #

    oh no you poor thing. luckily i have only used my card on one bottle of water when i was dying of thurst.

    • Jeremy Foster January 13, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

      I wish! I’m working on digging my way out of this hole, but it’s not easy! Having a credit card that you rarely use can be very useful when in emergency situations. It’s always nice to have a backup plan!

  5. dani shirtcliff January 15, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

    yeah luckily the credit card lady told me not to create a pin for cash advancement because the charges are so high when your abroad. times have gotten better though i couldnt believe it – 30 bucks for about 50 text messages on at and t not to bad !

  6. Jeremy Foster August 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    Not too bad? That seems expensive, Dani!

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