In the past month or so I’ve had four credit cards compromised. Notice of the latest breach came via e-mail this morning: Some thieving bastard(s) purchased hundreds of dollars’ worth of stuff from Walmart.com and then tried to spend hundreds more at a different online company.
The other three credit cards weren’t part of the latest Target breach, in which as many as 40 million people had their data stolen. But that theft should help convince people to come around to my way of thinking: that you need at least two credit cards. Suppose you were on vacation or traveling on business and found your plastic didn’t work?
Which is exactly what happened to me: I’m currently in Phoenix, about to celebrate Christmas with my daughter and son-in-law. The card that got hacked is now kaput. What if I wanted to go shopping, or needed to pay for a van ride back to the airport?
Fact is, I have enough cash and my daughter will make sure I get back to Sky Harbor. But I also have another credit card. Right now it’s tucked away and I might not need to use it at all. But I’m glad it’s there, just in case.
Keeping your options open
We shouldn’t rely on credit cards, but they do make some things – especially travel – a lot easier.
You can also use credit rewards programs to your advantage; in fact, the majority of my holiday gifts this year came from rewards points. This is particularly important in view of my recent economic downturn.
On two occasions I’ve had family health crises in other states and needed to fly out immediately. Once I became sick while traveling and had to leave the plane for the emergency room; afterward, I needed a hotel room until I was cleared to travel the following afternoon.
I am not suggesting irresponsible credit card use. But I think you should keep your options open – and having more than one card lets you do that.
More light reading: