About Charge-A-Plates

Most of us carry credit cards but my high primal thinker carries charge-a-plates as well as credit cards (What's a "high primal thinker"? Check out Living With A High Primal Thinker). This fact may tell you a little about the high primal thinker’s age. (For those of you who are still babes , charge-a-plates were the forerunner of today’s plastic credit cards. They actually were metal plates embossed with a name and account number and the size of a military dog tag . Most department stores issued charge-a-plates.) Charge-a-plates have gone the way of the horse and buggy but for some individuals a plastic credit card is still a charge-a-plate if it has been issued by a department store. Apparently the distinction is that these same individuals believe that besides generating a balance due bill a charge-a-plate has the ability to generate countless catalogs with tempting coupons which arrive in your mailbox whereas a VISA, MasterCard or Discover card merely generates a balance due bill.

Now you and I know that department store credit cards no longer are prestige cards in spite of the preferred customer label sometimes attached to them. A platinum VISA card or a titanium MasterCard are much more distinguishable as a sign of good credit. Wait a minute, platinum and titanium are metals! Could these be charge-a-plates in disguise? A call to my Titanium VISA card customer service revealed that they had never heard of charge-a-plates and assured me that my titanium card was actually a genuine plastic credit cards. What a relief! While I had customer service on the line I asked if there was any advantage to carrying countless number of department store credit cards as well as their Titanium VISA card. Customer service had no answer to my question and proceeded to transfer me to their account resolution department. I was not going to go that route so I hung up.

With identity theft being what it is today I cautioned my high primal thinker that carrying around a multitude of credit cards was inviting identity theft. She agreed but responded it was the lesser of two evils. The worst alternative would be to be placed on a department store “shit” list for having discarded their card. She also reminded me that our savvy daughter who has a degree in business administration carried a number of department store cards as well as VISA and MasterCard. Case closed!

As luck would have it during the course of a conversation my daughter revealed that she had long discarded her department store cards and had received no hate calls from the store’s customer service representative. In fact she only carries two credit cards. She emphatically pointed out the folly of seniors carrying a wallet full of credit cards. That did it - all of the high primal thinker’s arguments for carrying charge-a-plates disappeared. I pounced on the opportunity and made her an offer she could not refuse. I would store her department store card cards in our safe . If she ever wanted them she could try getting into the safe to retrieve them. I do mean try since she did not have the combination.

On our next trip to the mall she carried a purse sans charge-a-plates. Every purchase she made was sheer torture as she fumbled for a charge-a-plate and found only a VISA. Withdrawal pains were plainly visible. It was one of the most inexpensive visits we ever had to the mall. No charge-a-plates, no coupons, meager purchases.

A sulking high primal thinker in withdrawal is a site to behold. I finally relented and returned her charge-a-plates to her. It was in the nick of time . Our Christmas shopping was not done but armed with charge-a-plates and coupons it was off to the mall. All went well until my high primal thinker presented a coupon along with her charge-a-plate when making a purchase. She discovered that along with her plate she should have brought along a lawyer to decipher the fine print in the coupons. The coupons were not honored but the purchases were made and the Christmas shopping was finally completed.

The high primal thinker is very smug about getting her plates back. In fact she has them in a new credit card holder purchased with a charge-a-plate and a 15% off coupon. I lost the battle and knew how Napoleon felt as he retreated from Moscow. Unlike Napoleon, I still plan on winning the war.

No comments: