It’s easy to get disheartened about your finances when you’re an avid reader of personal finance blogs. Like some people might read fashion magazines and quietly compare themselves to the models they see on the pages, I read money blogs and compare myself to people who are either way behind me – the debt bloggers – or, in most cases, way ahead.
But you know what always cheers me up? A chat with my bank.
I remember paying a visit to my local branch years ago toward the end of high school. I probably only had about $4k in my accounts (I never cracked $10k until after graduating university), yet the teller was apparently amazed that I’d saved that much, and asked me what I was saving for.
“Ummm, uni?” I offered, stumped.
You work at a bank, for goodness sake. Is saving for the sake of saving really such a foreign concept?
This month I applied for a second credit card, thinking it would be good to have a backup while we travel that can be carried separately just in case I get mugged or my wallet gets lost. The online process took just a couple of minutes, and was followed up by a call the next day with a few more questions – so you don’t have a student loan? car loan? hire purchase? store cards anywhere? – along with acknowledgement of my strong savings history. Way to boost the ego. (I’ve been with my bank for over a decade, so they’re all up in the intimate details of my financial history – which is pretty vanilla.)
The bank rep also tried to upsell me to a Gold or Platinum Visa. Now that’s something I never thought I’d hear in my life. Say what?
If I booked my flights with one of these premium cards, I’d get free travel insurance. Righty-o. Pity I’ve already booked both – and don’t really want to pay hefty annual fees for the privilege of a shinier credit card.
This got me thinking, though. Putting aside the fact that I just don’t see myself as the kind of person to own a gold or platinum credit card, would it ever make sense from a financial standpoint?
Well, at $80 to $130 a year in annual fees, I think not. In comparison, my humble standard Visa only costs $24 (bank credit cards without annual fees don’t really exist here). According to interest.co.nz, I have one of the best credit cards in regard to annual fees. Given my lifestyle and spending habits, the credit card perks of free travel insurance and the ability to earn reward points marginally faster don’t really appeal.
My needs in a credit card are simple, really: enable me to buy stuff online, rent vehicles, provide an imprint at the odd hotel, and be widely accepted, so I can use it to pay for as many things as possible in order to rack up points. As well as the $24 a year I pay for the privilege of my bank credit card, I also pay $20 to partake in the rewards programme, which earns me more than enough to cover all the fees, as well as pay for a few trips to the movies or a few meals out.