Ahhhhh I did something so freakin’ stupid!

j. stupid headI used my CREDIT CARD instead of my DEBIT CARD at the ATM last week! THREE different times!

Grrrrrrrr…. The stupid cards look so much alike :(  I don’t even have my debit card IN my money clip anymore! (I rarely take out cash due to my stupid work situation…) So that means that:

a) Each transaction was then considered to be a “Cash Advance” – granting me $15+ in total fees just for swiping them!

and b) I will now get charged, per day, on the “balance” of this money until paid off completely. Which means even if I do that today (which I’m going to do), and it registers tomorrow or the next day, I’m already looking at 10 total days worth of interest. Not fun :(  Especially since I already have that $1,800 balance on there from the past month which I’m already working on paying off (was just my luck that I used that SAME card & not either of my other 2 which carry $0.00 balances)

How to prevent this Credit vs. Debit ATM nonsense…

When I tweeted/facebooked about this I got a couple of really good ideas on how to prevent this in the future.  Maybe this will help you not to be an idiot too?

  1. Keep different PINS. If you keep a different pin # for each card, you will catch yourself making this mistake when the ATM denies you. And if you still don’t get it, it doesn’t matter since it won’t give you the money anyways!  (thx for the tip Matt!)
  2. Label each card with a Sharpie. If it’s a “house” card, write House on the front of it.  If it’s for gas, write GAS, etc.  The cards will still work and it’ll be another reminder so you don’t goof it up. (big thx to Jessica for that one. And Jen says nail polish works even better! (doesn’t wipe off))

Moral of the story?  Pay Attention! And then fix your wrongs ASAP before you cost yourself even more money down the road.

// End Rant

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  1. Sandy L August 11, 2010 at 8:16 AM

    Another great use for a sharpie..I heart sharpies. Great tip.

    My corporate card looked just like my personal card and I’ve swiped the wrong one before and had to return stuff and re buy it.. as it looks really bad when you charge your groceries to your corporate credit card. I fixed the problem by changing credit card companies, but the sharpie trick would have been easier.

  2. Kristia@FamilyBalanceSheet August 11, 2010 at 8:19 AM

    Did you call the cc company and explain the situation? Maybe they will reverse any fees.

  3. philip August 11, 2010 at 8:23 AM

    Doh! Guess I am using the different PIN number method. Of course using my debit card that is ING Orange is pretty distinctive.

    Do you really carry enough credit cards around that you get confused on this? I figured you to keep just one credit and one debit card.

  4. Wayne August 11, 2010 at 8:44 AM

    Why even have a PIN for credit card? They always asks but I decline as I did not want what just happened happen to me.

    Also, another trick I learned and use is to put debit card in a sleeve in the wallet as reminder. You can pick up sleeve at any bank.

  5. Brent August 11, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    I have a solution….get rid of the credit card. play with snakes ur gonna get bit, and i think you got bit!

  6. ZFarls August 11, 2010 at 9:52 AM

    True, as Dave Ramsey always says, play with snakes and you will get bit. Otherwise, just pay more attention otherwise your gonna keep paying fees.

    I actually have a similar situation going when I swipe, but never for cash withdrawl. Atleast you can cover it and pay the stupid tax.

  7. Liz August 11, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    I’m surprised that USAA didn’t waive the fee when you called and explained the situation.

  8. Cori R. August 11, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    Ouch! I kept doing that except it was with my then-bf’s debit card and sometimes I’d accidentally overdraft him. Oops. Now I take advantage of the PhotoCard options at my bank and CC, so all my cards are as different as possible. (And boy are they! From a macro ladybug to the Rīga skyline at night, there is NO way I’ll mix them up.)

  9. the Dad, Climbing Out August 11, 2010 at 10:54 AM

    I’m not even going to say it…

  10. Julie F August 11, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    New credit card is the same blue as my debit. Just Sharpie’d both. Thanks for the idea.

  11. Daniel Howard August 11, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    3. Use different banks for different accounts.

  12. Jen August 11, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    Wow…that stinks!! :( We have a somewhat similar situation. We have two checking accounts with our bank….one that regular bills come out of and the second one is what we call “spending”….anything that’s NOT a regularly occurring expense. The PROBLEM is that our credit union issues the same looking cards…so my husband will use the BILL account when he’s supposed to use the SPENDING and before you know it, we’re in the negative! (Thank God for savings overdraft protection!)

    Anywho….my solution…We tried Sharpies…DOESN’T WORK!! THEY WEAR OFF!! We use NAIL POLISH….Have your wifey put a nice little word or letter or SOMETHING on it to keep ’em separate :) That’s the only thing we’ve found to work. Good Luck! :)

  13. Nunzio Bruno August 11, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    Nice catch on the cards when you did..that could have been way worse. Having different pins and labeling really can be a huge help. I’m really surprised too about the return of the fees – they should have been able to cut you a break on something. Sorry to hear – but you did get a nice little awareness post out of it for the blog :)

  14. Jim August 11, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    i know what that feels like. i have pulled a bone head move like that before. it is not the end of the world but at the time it sure feels like it.

    i think you hit the nail on the head. if you make a mistake quickly right your wrong and move on. it is the only way to correct the unexpected error.

  15. Techbud August 11, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    I don’t have pins for my CCs, just don’t want to have anything to do with the cash advance option on them.

    Since you were thinking you had the cash from you debt card, you should have it to pay it off.

  16. Khaleef @ KNS Financial August 11, 2010 at 6:52 PM

    I honestly don’t even know the pass codes to my credit cards. I had planned on calling them up to get them, but after reading this, I may cancel that call.

  17. eemusings August 11, 2010 at 7:03 PM

    I only have a cash card and a Visa, and they both look very different. Gah! Sorry you got stung.

  18. myfinancialobjectives August 11, 2010 at 7:21 PM

    Woops! We all make dumb mistakes like that. Whenever I do something financially dumb, I often say: “And I even have a financial blog for pete’s sake….” In this case, I think you could do the same lol :)

  19. J. Money August 11, 2010 at 8:56 PM

    UPDATE: Called up the financial love of my life (USAA) and was one of the first times I had no luck ;) They def. understood it was a mistake but said they couldn’t reverse it since all 3 cleared. I don’t blame them though, maybe it costs them more money for me to swipe like that? I dunno. They did say I could go online and “submit a ticket” which will give me an answer in a few business days (and I’d have more luck there for some reason?) but we shall see. Going to file it tonight!

    Some responses:

    @Sandy L – Haha indeed. Sharpies are good for sooooo many things. In particularly fake tattoos… you know, to try out before you actually get one ;)
    @Kristia@FamilyBalanceSheet – Yup! Sure did. (posted news above)
    @philip – I don’t use my ING card but it sure is bright! I used to carry just 1 c/c and 1 debit card, but now I carry 2 c/cs – one for MY stuff, and one for our HOUSE stuff. We’re considering combining everything into one major pot, but for the most part this has been working just fine going on 5 years now.
    @Wayne – Yeah, good point! I guess I did it for one of those “just in case” scenarios, but thinking more about it you’re right. I’ll have to call and see if I can clear it or at least block it.
    @Brent – I don’t mind getting bit every few years when it saves me soooooo much time and effort :) I use my c/c to budget and keep track of stuff. Plus, so much easier to use and stay out of trouble (for me. and usually) than cash or debit card. Now if I were slipping up every other month it would be a different story…
    @ZFarls – Yeah, I have the money to wipe it way, I just gotta be smoother next time. And I still have yet to read a Dave Ramsey book – can you believe that?
    @Liz – Me too, but only kinda. I didn’t expect them to waive all chages (up front fees + interest), but I was hoping for at least 1 to be removed. We’ll see how my “ticket” gets handled – maybe it’ll be someone who knows this blog! :)
    @Cori R. – Haha, I like that idea :) Not once have I ever been able to put a photo on any of my cards either, I really want one.
    @the Dad, Climbing Out – What? Pick up *more* credit cards? ;)
    @Julie F – Well done!!! Now you don’t have to be a stupid face like me.
    @Daniel Howard – Good idea, but not my bag. I want the least amt. of banks possible so I can track easily every day.
    @Jen – HAH! Good thinking. Gonna update the post w/ that in 5 seconds :)
    @Nunzio Bruno – True that. Blogging is much more fun when you’re all fired up!
    @Jim – We live and we learn, right?
    @Techbud – Oh for sure. The only reason I was actually taking it out was to give $ to my parents right there on the spot (had to reimburse them for travel costs) instead of spending the 5 mins online to cut the check! Haha…so i basically traded 5 mins for $15+, and counting.
    @Khaleef @ KNS Financial – Yeah, CANCEL!!!
    @eemusings – It’s all good, just reminds me (again) that I have lots more learning to do :)
    @myfinancialobjectives – Haha yup! Although I’ll be the first to admit that I do mostly talking on this blog than pretending I know everything. I’m like really good at a few things, and really absent minded w/ hundreds of others ;)

  20. Go Banking Rates August 12, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    My goodness! I had no idea that you could do that…I just figured that it would spit the card back out and say wrong card or something! But I’m guessing that if the banks could make a quick buck off of that, they would. And if you don’t want to write directly on your credit card, you can put a color coded labeling sticker on it like this: http://s.ecrater.com/stores/79362/4ae8d65236093_79362f.jpg

  21. J. Money August 12, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    I didn’t realize I could do it either ;) learn something every day! (and you just reminded me to hurry up and Sharpie it up before I forget again. THANKS!)

  22. Donna Freedman August 13, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    Gee, I’ve never made a mistake. I wonder what it feels like???
    Seriously: You goofed. It’s done — and it’s become an object lesson for a bunch of your readers. We should all get together and buy you a present. But we’d use DEBIT, not CREDIT.

  23. J. Money August 15, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    Great! The gift of blogging full-time would be awesome, thank you so much :)

  24. Jaime August 18, 2010 at 4:09 AM

    well we all make mistakes, just learn and move on, its what I try to do when I mess up, no sense in beating yourself up. =)

  25. Moneycone November 7, 2010 at 9:19 AM

    Haha! I did the exact same thing sometime back. Thought I’ll give a call to my favorite credit union and get the fees waived. Didn’t budge. :(

  26. Ally Smith November 7, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    Yes we all make mistakes every now and then. Sorry that you made one. It could have been worse! Try switching your colors. The sharpie trick doesn’t work. If you are in a hurry you don’t have time to read if it says credit or debit. I recommend getting one bright orange and one blue/green. You’ll never make a mistake :)

  27. J. Money November 7, 2010 at 8:57 PM

    That’s a good idea. Although the sharpie has worked for me so far – got confused last week and saw the big ol letters across the card to snap me back int reality! :)