A Negative Credit Card Balance?

As many of you probably (should) do, I log in to all my accounts each morning to make sure all my pennies are playing nice with each other in their respectable homes :) Most of the times they are, but every now and then a few like to sneak out and I’m left organizing a quick man hunt in pursuit of collecting back my troublesome children!

Luckily today’s story isn’t about that, though. In fact, it’s the opposite.

7 months ago we re-designed the way we were handling our money and condensed a ton of accounts to better streamline things, and one of those accounts we stopped using was my personal credit card. With a hot limit of $30,000 – increased from $5,000 years ago in order to pump up my credit score for doing nothing ;) Because of that reason (and for emergencies) I never shut down the card 100%, but I did hide it from my view so it wasn’t cluttering my “accounts” section in USAA – a handy setting they have which is reason #3,004 I love them so much!

Anywho, since I stopped using the card after so many months, I also stopped receiving credit card statements for it as well. Which is even better – less e-statements clogging my inbox too! That was, until I started getting them again and had the Dickens confused out of me…

At first I didn’t open them ‘cuz I just assumed they’d be at $0.00 balances since I hadn’t touched the card in over half a year (I now open and answer *everything* of course, as evidence of our debt collector issue from last week!), but after the 2nd one I decided to just “waste my time” and check it out anyways just to see what the deal was. And boy was I glad I did!

It turns out you can  have cash GIVEN TO YOU on your cards just the same as it taken away! Haha… or more commonly put, it’s a holding place for cash rewards as well :) Not just debts. So to my surprise I not only had a balance on my no-longer-used credit card now, but it was a *negative* one! USAA has a credit line opened up with ME now! Haha…

Yup. My J$ credit line card now has a modest balance of -$38.94. Woohoo! Free money! I don’t know what I’ll be doing with it quite as yet, but as you know it falls under my “Money For Me” rule which stipulates I’m allowed to spend it however damn well I please. ‘Cuz it’s unexpected bonus money and allows me a break from all that hardcore money mongering I do day in and day out ;)

So it’s a good day to be me! I just got through 4 days of being incredibly sick – as well as passing it all along to my family (boooooo) – but small surprises like this helps you forget about the madness and peps you right back up again…

Maybe you guys have a few positive surprises to share with us too? Or even some bad ones you wish to vent or get advice on? We got yo back!

PS: The only credit cards we have/use is this one: USAA Cash Rewards® World MasterCard®. It may not be the best-best out there, but it treats us well and allows me to continue having all my accounts under one roof. For better or for worse ;)

[Photo by .reid]

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  1. Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank February 18, 2013 at 7:04 AM

    I am never lucky enough to find money like that :(
    In fact my brother was just gloating to me over Skype about he just found $150 in some old birthday cards that he had in his bedside table. Obviously he has too much money to go storing it in old birthday cards…

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 7:50 PM

      HAH! Now that is a nice surprise :) I hope it’s not an old check which surprises its originator all these years later!

  2. Lance @ Money Life and More February 18, 2013 at 7:20 AM

    Haha I have a negative 5 cent balance on my USAA card for the same reason. You can tell I don’t use it much because that was all of the cash rewards I earned on it last year. Maybe I can buy a stick of gum?

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 7:51 PM

      I couldn’t let it sit there for a long time – it would drive me bonkers having that out there! You gotta spend it and make me feel better! :)

  3. Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle February 18, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    Bell owes me $11.95 because I cancelled my account with them after I had paid my monthly bill. They have sent me 3 monthly statements with my credit stated but still know cheque. I have called several times but the hold time is too long.

    I want my $11.95. I am going to do something wild with it like turn the heat up on one of these freezing cold days and run around in shorts and a t-shirt like I am on a tropical vacation. $11.95 is not enough money to buy those little umbrellas for my drinks.

    -22 celsius in my part of Canada today.

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 9:14 PM

      Oh I love you so much.

  4. Michelle February 18, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    I have a negative $.01 balance on the student loan I just paid off. Not sure how that happened.

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 9:17 PM

      Probably a day’s worth of interest or something cuz the payment went through too fast?

  5. Pauline February 18, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    I usually use my credit card to withdraw cash since they have no fee on that but the interest starts running from the moment you get the cash so I carry a positive balance, to use it as a debit card. The bank (UK) doesn’t seem to mind but another one told me it was against TOS to carry a positive balance.

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 9:16 PM

      What, really?? But you still pay the interest every day/month even though you have the credit yeah? I’m confused… you can’t do stuff like that on credit cards here in the U.S., haha..

  6. John S @ Frugal Rules February 18, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    My wife has the same exact card and just got a statement showing she has a negative balance of $1.92. She rarely ever uses it as we have better rewards cards, so we’re not certain exactly how she got it. I wonder how long they’ll allow us to carry the balance. ;)

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 9:17 PM

      I wouldn’t be able to leave it there! Tell her to hurry up and spend it for me ;)

  7. Leah February 18, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    I hope that happens to me one day!! :)

    How does that happen? You said, “Cash rewards”–was that what it turned out to be? How do you redeem that?


    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 9:19 PM

      Yup! I had spent money on the card in the first half of the year, so it must have generated cash back on that amount and then credited it to me as I believe I have it set up that I get these rewards at the end of the year or something… Or maybe that’s how they do it for everyone? Either way it was all free money :)

  8. www.digging-my-way-out.blogspot.com February 18, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    I bought a car years ago and my loan was through a credit union and so I had to have a checking account with them. When I finally paid the car off I overpaid and I now have approximately $38 that is sitting there waiting for me to collect. I get a statement every few months but I have been too lazy to figure out what paperwork I need to send it to close the account and it’s located in another state so i cant just drive there. I suppose I can admit now that laziness is keeping me from $38 of my own money!

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 9:22 PM

      Haha yeah, I was just gonna say – go drive over there! ;) I would just call them and see if they can do it all over the phone to be honest with you – nowadays they close accounts just like that! I closed two last year over the phone and it took like 8 mins each – do it!

  9. Jason @ WSL February 18, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    Looks like you’ll be buying the drinks if we ever have the chance to meet up. :) That’s pretty awesome by the way…it’s like finding a $20 bill in your jeans that you had no idea was there!

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 9:23 PM

      Yup! I hope you still come to FINCON either way! :)

  10. Well Heeled Blog February 18, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    I have a couple cards with a few hundred dollars in negative balances – those are due to reimbursements for interview-related expenses. I actually really dislike negative balances, it makes me feel like I should just spend it because it’s “free money” – but it’s obviously not!

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 9:23 PM

      Yeah, reimbursements are totally different – I’d spend those on groceries and “boring” stuff that are necessities :)

  11. Kelsey February 18, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    That’s awesome! I would take myself out to lunch and maybe a cheap dinner for me and the husband!

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 9:24 PM

      What about your pal J$? I get no love… no love :(

  12. Johnny @ Our Freaking Budget February 18, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    I found an AMEX gift card for $50 hiding in my wallet. I made the mistake of mentioning it to Joanna, so it looks like that $50 will change from “money for me” to “money for we.” :) Oh well, at least it’s money.

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 9:25 PM

      heck yeah! maybe she’ll surprise you with a gift? :)

  13. Cat February 18, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    wow that’s awesome. Free money! If it was me I’d see if the credit card company will send me a check so I could deposit into my SLOWLY growing emergency fund. :)

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 9:28 PM

      I wonder if they’d do that? An excellent question…. I like that!

  14. SavvyFinancialLatina February 18, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    That’s pretty cool! It’s never happened to me!

  15. Angella February 18, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    When I bought my house the mortgage company made me finance a new HVAC system (rehab loan, wouldn’t allow cash for anything). Two months after closing I submitted for the payoff amount, and paid it off right away. Months go by and I start getting a statement from the credit union that financed it…I overpaid $153.18. Instead of refunding it, they opened up an account for me. This credit union isn’t located anywhere near me. They won’t cut me a check, and they won’t let me set up an online account to transfer it (I’m not a ‘member’.) So I have $153.18 just sitting there. I guess if I’m bored or desperate one day I’ll make the 5 hour drive, haha.

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 9:29 PM

      What?? That makes no sense at all??? ROAD TRIP!! :)

  16. Jacob @ iheartbudgets February 18, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    Sometimes I pay off the card, then we return something, so the balance goes negative. It’s no “unexpected money”, so I can’t blow it on Justin Bieber bobble-head dolls or anything cool, but it’s still nice to see the credit card company owing ME money :)

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 9:30 PM

      Well, you *could*, but us finance nerds might have something to say about it ;)

  17. Your Boss @ What Your Boss Thinks February 18, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    It is a nice surprise. I had one similar to this with my credit card. I forgot that I returned a few things, and paid my credit card off at the end of the month and then the credit hit it. It was not big, about $50 but it was nice, nevertheless.

  18. Christian L. February 18, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    J. Money,
    I’m in the same boat! I have $110 to reap as cash back on my AmEx card. I’m pretty stoked about that.

    Any idea what you’ll be spending your “negative” balance on?

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 9:32 PM

      Sweet – congrats!! And yup! I now know that I’ll be getting a few fish that suck algae out of my aquarium (built in cleaners! haha…) and then probably on some office supplies for my blogger den like cool pens that I probably wouldn’t pick up on normally… Kinda dorky, but hey – it’s my splurge day!

      How about you?

      1. Christian L. February 19, 2013 at 1:22 PM

        Rad! I love aquariums, especially with those algae-suckin’ fish. I’m thinking I’ll get a new oversized backpack for my bike polo trips.

        -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

  19. Edward Antrobus February 18, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    21st Mortgage owes us $275. Only problem is, they don’t realize it quite yet. The closing on the sale of our mobile home was Thursday, the day before our mortgage payment. But on Friday, they took it out anyway. So we’ve overpaid by $275 and when they open tomorrow, I’m making sure they figure it out. :)

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 9:33 PM

      Woohoo! I like that!! (And congrats!)

  20. Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce February 18, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    Once….ONCE…it happened, but it was from a double payment. Nothing as cool as what happened with you, J!! Thanks for the cool post!

  21. Jose February 18, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    OK, the burning question on my mind is, “Are they paying you any interest on a negative balance?”. I suspect I know the answer to that one. BTW, I use USAA for a lot of my finances and absolutely love their services.

  22. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    GREAT QUESTION!!! I have noooo idea!! haha…. but oh man, now I REALLY have to find out – You sir, have made my night :) Thank you.

  23. Melinda Gonzalez February 18, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    I found a dime on the ground a few days ago
    Let’s see, that’s about it recently. I once found $5.00 inside a wallet for sale when I was five.
    By the way, I love your blog!

    1. J. Money February 18, 2013 at 9:45 PM

      hah! that was like a million bucks back then! (and glad you like the blog – thx so much! :))

  24. Eva Smith February 19, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    I have the exact same USAA card and love that free money every year. I also got 60$ from the from the Subscriber’s Savings Account deal because we have all of our insurance with them as well!

    1. J. Money February 20, 2013 at 4:38 PM

      Sweet! We’re all family here then :)

  25. SavvyFinancialLatina February 19, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    No miscellaneous shopping for the next forty days! Only food, bills, and transportation cost on credit card.

    1. J. Money February 20, 2013 at 4:40 PM

      Good one!! For Lent, I take it?

  26. Grayson @ Debt Roundup February 19, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    I had this happen to one of my cards, one that I hadn’t used in a while. It apparently changed into a rewards card and I didn’t realize it. I logged in to see $50 of credit. Sweet!!

    1. J. Money February 20, 2013 at 4:41 PM

      I’ll take that all day, any day :)

  27. Chris July 4, 2014 at 5:39 PM

    Ok everyone I get it. Money is important to get by..but really?? Your going to let money rule your existence to that extent? When your at the very end are you going to look back at your accomplishments in life and say..hey I saved $100 what a life!

    1. J. Money July 5, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      not sure I understand what you mean by “to that extent?” Tthe extent of having a good plan to manage money? At the end of my life I won’t be thinking about a saved $100, I’ll be thinking of a saved 50 years to do as I please cuz I hustled the first third of my life ;)