This afternoon I had to bring my brand new 08 Altima to the dealership for them to fix some delivery issues. They are paying for a rental car, and I happened to be waiting at the rental company with another lady who brought her car in to the dealership. She was very pleasant, perhaps late 20s, early 30s, with a young daughter who couldn’t have been more than 4. We chit-chatted a tad while waiting our turns to sign the paperwork. She was sweeter than sugar, allowing me to go first. I commented how that seems easy now since her daughter is well behaved, and I’m sure she’ll go psycho the second I start, and she’ll regret it. She insisted, and I went first. My transaction took about 10 minutes.
While waiting for them to get my car, the young lady began her transaction. Her daughter was very well behaved, and I was quite impressed. The first thing the rental agent asked for was a Drivers License and Credit card. The mom gave him the drives license, but said she did not have a credit card. He said he could use a debit card as well, to which she replied she didn’t have that either. She had a bunch of plastic in her wallet, but from my vantage point, it was mostly grocery store cards. Now, perhaps because the dealership was paying for her rental as well, she was being crafty and not getting exposure on her card for the preauthorization. However, it’s what she said that literally boiled my blood.
“I don’t have a credit or debit card.” She began. “We’re a one bank account household, and a one credit card household. My husband works, and I stay home with her.” She continued, pointing to her daughter. “He has the credit card, we can call him for the number.” The agent explained they can’t talk cards over the phone due to fraud, adding if the card was in her name or her husbands. “His of course,” she said, “why?”
The agent explained that since the credit card was in his name, he would have to sign the agreement as well. She explained that wasn’t possible, since he was 2+ hours away working near their home. The agent explained there was nothing that he could do, and nicely moved on to help others. The woman began making panicked and angry phone calls to the dealership, as well as her husband. My car came and I left.
So, I am driving back to my office, and try to dissect this woman’s situation. She’s in her 20s or 30s. She’s got a human being that’s dependant on her, her daughter. She drove 2 hours to bring her car in to the shop, and then had to drive 2 hours back. Forgetting the whole car rental situation, how could she put herself in a situation where GOD FORBID there’s an emergency, she had better have enough cash, or find someone who’d take a personal check WITHOUT A CHECK CARD OR CREDIT CARD AS COLLATERAL, to help her out of the emergency. Is she that strong of faith that God, or whomever her higher power is, will carry her safely through every situation and never need emergency funds? Or is she that naive and trusting that her husband has total control over her finances. Lord, if it’s the later, I hope she reads this. If it’s the former, I hope she reads this.
First things first, bank accounts. If you are going to be a 1 account household, that’s a personal decision and I recognize that. You may not want a his and hers account, and that’s fine. However, make that account JOINT. It’s actually called “Joint tenants with right of survivorship”, or it was when I worked for Chemical Bank back in the early 90s. That means two important things, one which could have helped this lady. First, it means that in the event something happens and one of the spouses die, the other automatically gets the money. Otherwise, there is at least SOME legal formality that needs to go through to pass the money from dead spouse to surviving spouse not on the account. The other important things is SHE WOULD HAVE HAD A BANK CARD FOR THE ACCOUNT. And since MOST bank checking accounts come with a “Visa” logo on the cash machine card now-a-day, she’d be covered.
Second, think about your credit history. If your spouse is in 100% control of all the money and accounts, you don’t exist. That means that while you have simplified your banking life, you’ve also complicated your credit future. With no established credit history, getting a loan in the future becomes problematic. And while I realize that this is your fairytale and you and your spouse will be forever together and you’ll never be divorced and need to get a house, car, or furniture, AT LEAST PLAN! If not for that “negative” possibility, how about for the positive possibility that you may want to apply for a mortgage WITH your spouse in the future. Establish and maintain a credit card, even if you never use it, just to have the file open and working.
Finally, even if it’s his credit card, based on his credit score, you can order a card in your name. There’s no additional credit check, at least not with Chase and Discover. Both of those banks have issued cards to a second party without ANY information on them, not even a social security number or a credit check. The primary account holder is 100% responsible, of course, but the second person has a card. There may be rules and acceptions to this that I’m not aware of, but my experience was favorable with both.
Ok, It’s an hour or so after this event, and I’m still furious with this woman. I know her full name because we discussed it, and I’m tempted to call her and force her to read this blog post. How can a SAHM put herself in that sitatuion? How about you? Who are you going to tell to read this blog post? Let me know, and lord, pass it on!