The Magical Credit Card

So a blogger just emailed me this totally random question, but now I can’t stop thinking about it and curious to see how you guys would answer it ;)

Would you play it safe, or try to max the rewards??

Here’s his note:

Hey man,

Hope you are all well and having a great day, and the little buddy has a good affinity for sleeping :)

Was just reading your “What Does Wealth Mean to You?” post, and when I got to the “peace of mind” and “not thinking about money” part a thought experiment popped into my mind.

Curious how you’d answer?


Imagine if you check the mail tomorrow and there is a blank envelope with a magical credit card in it that you never have to pay off.

This card comes with a manual, and inside it it tells you that from this day forward you can buy anything you want with it forever, however there’s one restriction:

The card has a DAILY limit, but the only thing you know about it is that it’s more than $100. If you go over it, the card will freeze up and you’ll never be able to use it again.

How would you use this opportunity?

Here was my answer, which I’m sure isn’t that hard to guess :)

Personally I’m way too conservative to ever risk it (and there’s not much I desire THAT bad anyways), so I’d just play it safe and *never* go over $100 in any given day. Not only would this be a helluva gift on its own (that’s $3,000 a month – ABSOLUTELY FREE!!!) but it would last my entire lifetime at that!

And then maybe towards the end of it I’ll try to do something really big and cool like pay off someone’s $100k of debt, or buy a house for someone and if it freezes then, oh well, haha…

I then posed this question to a good friend of mine who also loves these types of games, and here’s what he said after hearing my answer:

I’d probably do pretty much the same as you for a few years until I was out of debt, and then I’d double it every day for 5 days until it was $3,200/day. If I didn’t bust, I’d keep that for six months and then try again. Etc.

Clever!! Of course the real question is whether this *daily max* is set in stone or if it fluctuates daily (I assumed the latter, but it actually didn’t specify?), but either way it’s an interesting thought exercise to go through and says a lot about your personality.

What would YOU do if you got this magical card in the mail?? Would you risk it for ultimate rewards, or play it safe like me and be thankful for the free Benji every day? What could you do with an extra $3,000 every month???

So far my blogger friend who emailed me this question didn’t answer it himself (you can’t make up a game and then not play along! Haha…) but maybe blasting his email out will get him to chime in ;)

Oh, and that blogger is btw – a newish one on the scene who writes from the heart of Europe “in the country which is called Serbia (at the moment).” So his perspective on life/money are intriguing to say the least.

Have fun checking your mailboxes when you get home :)

**UPDATE** Our blogger friend who devised this game chimed in! “I would take what is granted, so no payments above $100 for me also. Such a magic card would push me into FIRE immediately. Actually to a very luxurious one as our current spending (if I take everything into account) averages around $1k/month. If I had such a golden goose at hand which grants three times that amount I would not dare to risk. Let’s add another 50% for a safety margin, buy ETFs with the rest and still if I put these numbers into an ER calc it tells me that in 16.6 years I could even retire from using the card. In terms of charity and helping others my choice would be a little bit different. If this magical card would free me from the rat race I would be giving away my time and skills. I could work on coding projects which could make people’s life better, or volunteer for organizations which cannot afford a coder. Even I could teach kids coding maybe… I have some ideas for such a situation :D”

PS: Another way to play it? Buy 100 lottery tickets every day and get your millions that way without having to risk freezing up the card, haha… The opportunities are endless!

PPS: For more scenarios like these, check out our “Would You Rather” series

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  1. FullTimeFinance June 8, 2018 at 5:36 AM

    I’d stay with under 100 until I reached a point where 100 dollars was no longer a thought (say 70 with a nice amount already saved up). Then I’d follow the double setup mentioned or something similar once the risk of impact was low).

  2. Accidental FIRE June 8, 2018 at 6:24 AM

    $3,000 a month is $36,000 a year. Since I’m already financially independent, I would maybe spend a tiny bit on myself but I would set up some kind of a charity, and keep plugging a hundred dollars or less into it. Better yet, it would be fun to go to the ATM machine everyday, get $100, and go around giving it to somebody who deserves it.

    1. Kate June 8, 2018 at 6:32 AM

      That’s a great idea!

    2. J. Money June 8, 2018 at 9:55 AM

      I would totally do that too, haha… Or *hide* hundred dollar bills and make people do scavenger hunts around town for it :)

      1. Scott June 8, 2018 at 2:56 PM

        Charitable donation or scavenger hunt both sound like fantastic ideas, especially if you’re already FI.

  3. Kate June 8, 2018 at 6:31 AM

    Oh my! This literally gives me an anxiety attack! I think I would just “play it safe” and say this is my free transport and food and basic household goods money for life (I take public transport only, I don’t eat super fancy food, and I have a small home that doesn’t need much). I don’t think I could face the REGRET of spending $101 one day and having the magic card taken away!

  4. BusyMom June 8, 2018 at 6:45 AM

    I will just spend $100 per day. No taking chances! We can live on $40,000 a year and our current savings will take care of inflation.

    Waiting for that card. I will retire the moment it gets here!

    1. J. Money June 8, 2018 at 9:56 AM

      Isn’t that a freeing thought!

  5. MK June 8, 2018 at 7:29 AM

    I would increase my 401k contribution at work so I could max it out plus increase the extra I pay on my mortgage (also a weekly payroll deduction). The daily $100 would then be my gas/groceries/etc. fund.

    1. J. Money June 8, 2018 at 9:57 AM

      Excellent ideas!! You can certainly get more off it by investing the money for sure.

  6. The Savvy Couple June 8, 2018 at 7:31 AM

    So where can we get this credit card?

    1. J. Money June 8, 2018 at 9:58 AM

      It’s in mail, keep waiting for it :)

  7. Nancy Luanava June 8, 2018 at 7:39 AM

    That would be called the ultimate gift for me and my 5 kids that would give my kids the life they deserve with no worries and stress about how tommorow will be. The smartest thing I have ever heard in my life. Love it.

  8. Leo T. Ly June 8, 2018 at 7:47 AM

    Regardless if the limit is reset on a regular basis or not, I will try to find a way to do a onetime balance transfer. It’s a credit card right? So a balance transfer should be fair game. I will try to do a balance transfer to an amount that is as large as my mortgage. Let’s assume we that my mortgage is a million bucks.

    With this money, I will put it in the stock market and just take a dividend from the million dollar portfolio and I never have to worry about going over the limit again.

    1. J. Money June 8, 2018 at 9:58 AM

      Haha… don’t think it works that way, but I’ll ask the magic genie the next time I see him ;)

  9. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance June 8, 2018 at 7:51 AM

    Interesting scenario! I won’t go over the $100 daily limit either. Better yet, I might not even use the card at all.

    There’s no free lunch. If something is too good to be true, it’s probably not true. I don’t want to use the card for 10 years and have a debt collector harassing me one day.

  10. Brent June 8, 2018 at 8:07 AM

    Tough question, but if you already love the work you do, I’m guessing life would go on the same. It’s the unsettled and unsatisfied who would be making big changes. The depraved would be doing blow off a hooker’s ass, in a penthouse suite in Vegas. The wholesome would build schools for children in undeveloped countries.

    Fun to think about.

    1. J. Money June 8, 2018 at 9:59 AM

      Haha sure, but everyone would still like a free $100+ every day :)

  11. Paul June 8, 2018 at 8:24 AM

    More than 100 dollars, so Id do $101 since I like to live dangerously… lol. I’m assuming we can do cash advances too, so $101/ day invested for pretty much the rest of my life. Seriously though that’s $36,865 a year for nothing. Knowing you had that in perpetuity would be better than any other gift. Once I hit a zero balance on my mortgage and around 2.5 mil invested I would start spending the $100 a day and let the rest ride forever.

    1. J. Money June 8, 2018 at 10:00 AM

      You probably would be safe with $101 – it would be a mean game if the limit was literally just $1.00 over! You’d be done the first time you try to risk it! :)

  12. Janet June 8, 2018 at 8:31 AM

    I’d play it safe like you and just use $100 a day for a few years until I don’t really need the money anymore and then start increasing my purposes little by little. Maybe by $10 a day. And once I’m oozing with millions of dollars to my name then I’ll just make one gigantic purpose and let the card freeze up.

  13. Brian June 8, 2018 at 8:32 AM

    When I read the headline, I thought to myself there no such card. But, okay I’ll play along with the hypothetical.

    I won’t go over the $100 daily limit either, I’d take advantage of this so-called free money every day for years. I could drop $100 on random acts of kindness each day, that would be awesome! But what’s the catch? There has to be a catch?

    1. J. Money June 8, 2018 at 10:01 AM

      This is magic land – there is no catch :)

      But happy to make one up if you’d like… How about, every time you take out $100 you have to hug a stranger?

      1. Brian June 8, 2018 at 2:08 PM

        Depends on what part of town I’m in. :)

  14. Mike at Balanced Dividends June 8, 2018 at 8:47 AM

    I’d donate the card or give it to someone who needs it much more. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have $100 a day (the figure I’d swipe each day (even that amount on a given day is unrealistic for us to hit). But think of the impact that could have for anyone or any organization.

    Regardless, that would be a sweet card. I’m assuming it’s also a cash back card as well? – Mike

    1. J. Money June 8, 2018 at 10:03 AM

      That would be a nice thing to do :) Although wouldn’t you be worried that they’d F it up and get the card frozen prematurely? I would…. Safer to just take the money and give it away yourself I think.. could also spread it around more too or after someone who really needs it doesnt need it anymore and then move to the next person :)

  15. Jeremy June 8, 2018 at 9:04 AM

    If we assume that the card will freeze up even if we go over it by 1 cent …. it’s going to be quite the headache to ensure your spending reaches EXACTLY $100 everyday.

    As such, I’d add this magical credit card to a P2P payments app like Venmo, or Square Cash and wire the $100 to my checking account everyday. Taking away the usual 3% fee for transferring money from a credit card, you’d be left with $97 everyday. I’d stash the cash in a three-fund portfolio, or use it to churn credit cards :)

    Alternatively, one day if I was feeling super risky after years of stashing $97 away, I would use this method to make a 1 time transaction of something crazy: maybe $200 million? haha. One can dream.

    1. J. Money June 8, 2018 at 10:05 AM

      Very smart on the daily xfering, even with the $3 loss :) I was just assuming i’d hit the ATM or just buy stuff that totaled under $100 even if it was like $80 or $90, but the xfer’ing is also pretty good… Eventually you’d get tired of manually having to take out the money every day, and if you slip once that’s a $100 loss!

  16. Lisa O June 8, 2018 at 9:08 AM

    I would stay right with the $100 a day and be happy with the change it could make in my life and others. I know I could use the money everyday on myself but I think I would use it for others too. Can you image making a donation everyday to a cause that is close to your heart. That would give you such an awh moment daily that your happiness would shine :) Just the thought of handing $ to a homeless person face to face…….

    1. J. Money June 8, 2018 at 10:07 AM

      Totally :) I actually have a rule that anytime I’m asked or money I have to give it (within reason), so I’m always giving out money face-to-face to people… Even if they’re scammers, they obviously need it more than we do!

  17. Martinus June 8, 2018 at 3:55 PM

    I’ve got a “magic credit card”. I’ve had it for 19 years. When the mortgage is paid off in another 8 years it will produce (my share) approximately $10,000 per month net. Other people call this a rental property, but I think it is pretty magical. It will have “only” taken 27 years of work,but still, $10,000 per month … I think that was a fair trade.

    Anyone can do this. But I would advise you to only buy (1) when there is blood on the street, or has been recently, and (2) in a market where population is demonstrably growing (even a little wee bit of population growth is good enough). Patience is critical. I would buy nothing now. If you are young you will have your opportunity.

    When I was a young man I had no patience. Some friends and I bought a property at the height of the market in 1988. We sold it 17 years later, having made no money or cash flow. The properties I bought in 1999 were a different story. The blood on the street had dried, but you could still see it. We got in at a good price. The first 5 or 6 years required some heavy lifting, but it has been pretty good since then.

    If you follow these rules you can easily create your own “magic credit card”.

    1. J. Money June 11, 2018 at 10:34 AM

      Ahhhhh I see what you did there!!

      And $10gs a month seems very worth it indeed, congrats :) I hope to do it with stock investments vs real estate, but we all got our own modes of wealth building, eh? Saving this comment to use in a future post one day – it’s great.

  18. Bela June 8, 2018 at 9:18 PM

    I’d want to do as you would, but it’s a credit card after all – not cash. I wonder if cash advances are allowed, and how that would work! Maybe cash advances would even screw things up in fantasy! I would likely find it difficult to pay $100 on a credit card daily. But I would not want to gamble whatsoever.

    1. J. Money June 11, 2018 at 10:35 AM

      It would suck if you go to take out cash and then it freezes up right there on try #1 :)

  19. Moriah Joy June 8, 2018 at 9:19 PM

    I’d definitely focus on debt repayment, and then I’d set it aside in an investment account for the different master’s program my husband and I want to take. That way we’d be going through the programs entirely debt free. After that, save a couple years for a nest egg for the kids we one day want to have. Take a lavish vacation, and invest the rest ad infinitum.

    1. J. Money June 11, 2018 at 10:36 AM

      Oooh what master’s programs are you guys wanting to take? The same one, or different ones? That would be cool to go to class and study/learn together :) And then challenge each other to try and beat each other with grades!

      1. Moriah Joy June 11, 2018 at 3:37 PM

        I want to get a master’s in Patristics cos I’m a nerd, and if I had an unlimited amount of money, why not? He’s a social worker, and he wants to get his master’s in psychology because ya know, he actually has career goals. XD But I’ve always wanted to get a degree with him. It’d be so fun, although, he’s not the competitive type… so, he’d just roll his eyes at me if I tried.

        1. J. Money June 11, 2018 at 4:49 PM

          *Googles Patristics…*

          ** Gets glad you’d enjoy it as not sure how many places you could use it, haha… **

  20. Puck June 11, 2018 at 12:01 AM

    $100 a day would completely change my life. Right now I am a graduate student and working only part-time. During the semester I live on student loans, but right now during the summer with only part time and freelance work I am really feeling the pinch. Since, I live with roommates and we divide up rent and utilities, I would use the $100/day to paypal my roommates the rent and utilities in increments! Even with the credit card fee being charged, having basically free rent would free up so much of my brainspace from being stressed that I can hardly imagine what else I would do!

    I would probably also resubscribe to the various patreons and monthly charity donations that I have had to stop contributing to because of my current impoverished state.

    Then, once I have an actual salaried library job, that $100/day means I would have free groceries and dining out for the rest of my life and still be able to contribute to other people’s wellbeing. What a dream!

  21. J. Money June 11, 2018 at 10:40 AM

    Oh nice! So you’re going to school to become a librarian? I have this half-baked dream of running a personal finance book-only library that’s mainly online but also has a physical location too. Which houses every single $$$ book imaginable, along with free coffee so you can hang out and learn about $$ all day long ;) Everyone I know tells me it would never work, but one day I might have to prove them wrong! Haha…

  22. Becky June 13, 2018 at 11:41 AM

    I would probably do the $100 a day until I was debt free (assuming this is similar to a debit card where I can withdraw cash and not just a credit card for purchases).

    Also, I have a question, after the card freezes, you get to keep the item/cash that you spent on the last transaction, right? If so, then you could withdraw the amount of your magical retirement number, let’s say $5 million and there you go, put it somewhere to earn interest and retire. You’re good even if the card freezes after that. #loophole

    1. J. Money June 13, 2018 at 1:31 PM

      Haha… why don’t you try it and see what happens ;)