College Connect: Magic or Credit?

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Serena Zhang, Student, Arizona State University, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

screen-shot-2014-04-12-at-11-53-11-amI remember being in awe of credit cards when I was really young. Before I even knew the official name, I use to call them “magic cards” because money was magically stored in them. I was 16 when I got my first magic card. My parents got it for me because I was going out of the country on my own for the first time and bringing thousands of dollars in cash was just not safe.

With my brand new magic card and no cash, I traveled to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji with a program called “People To People.” Fiji was my first stop. Since it was summertime and Fiji was hot and humid, naturally the first purchase I made was a bottle of water that was about 50 cents. That was the first time I got to use my card to make a purchase and remember being really excited. I felt grown up!

But, at the time I was not warned about foreign transaction fees. So instead of just spending 50 cents on the water, I ended up paying about six dollars for a bottle of water. Being the irresponsible teenager I was, I never paid attention to receipts or noticed those fees. This fee came with every purchase I made the rest of my trip.

When it was time for our group to move onto Australia, our last stop, I have already reached the limit I had on my card. I remember being appalled about that. “I don’t remember spending that much money!” I thought. And in reality, I didn’t spend that much. Nearly one-third of the money spent was on foreign transaction fees! It adds up quick.

From that trip on, every time I travel to a foreign country I always make sure to mostly only use cash and only use my credit card in emergency situations. The more I travel, the more I have learned that cash is still preferred to any other payment method in most countries and accepted everywhere. There is just less hassle with cash and it is impossible to go wrong with cash. So the big lesson I have learned with having my first credit card, is that even though I have it, cash is king and it is wise to always carry some with you.

SABEW - Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication,
Arizona State University

555 North Central Ave, Suite 406 E, Phoenix, AZ 85004-1248


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