Saturday, December 5, 2009

Debt and Redemption...Revisited



I open the First Premier envelope as I've done for the past few months, poised to write my $6 check. Yes, it's silly to pay $6 a month “finance charge” on a credit card with no balance, but I want to milk the benefits to my credit score.

I'm about to tear off the payment portion when bold print catches my eye:

YOUR NEXT STATEMENT WILL INCLUDE A $48.00 ANNUAL FEE. THIS AMOUNT COULD PUT YOUR BALANCE OVER LIMIT, RESULTING IN AN OVER LIMIT FEE. TO AVOID THE POSSIBILITY OF BEING ASSESSED AN OVER LIMIT FEE, PLEASE INCLUDE THE $48.00 ANNUAL FEE AMOUNT WITH YOUR NEXT PAYMENT.

“Is this $48 fee in addition to the $6 I already pay every month?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Okay. I'd like to close this account.”

Chances are this isn't the first time First Premier has assessed an annual fee, but it's the first time that I care. I've made some significant changes in my budget, by creating one that I actually maintain. I even moved, thus downsizing my rent by over $300 a month. I rearranged my priorities to gain better financial positioning. And now, I care. Before, a fee was the furthest thing from my mind. When you're keeping your head above water, making a way when you can, you don't spend a lot of energy analyzing fees. After all, you probably caused them. Call the company for what?

“Why would you like to close your account today ma'am?”

(pause, gag, cough) “Because I'm paying over a hundred dollars in fees on this card!”

“I can waive $40 of the annual fee...”

Wow, this is different. I'm not begging for an extension or a waiver or telling off another bill collector this time. The creditor is finally in a position where it has to win me back. And I'm finally in a position where I can tell First Premier exactly what to do with their $120 in debauchery.

“I'll close the account.”

My motto has always been carpe diem, make memories, enjoy experiences...at all costs. Life is too short to cry over bills. And while I still embody that attitude, I'm really diggin' the power that comes with this newfound financial freedom. Options. Leverage. Not settling for dummy deals.

So this is what it feels like to hold the cards.

Pun intended.


Image by Faakhir Rizvi