Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Financial History

With very little fanfare, I just made the last payment on a credit card whose genealogy goes back to when I was 18 years old.

When I went off to college, my parents signed me up for a BankAmericard from Ohio Citizens Trust Company in Toledo, a bank that had been our family’s friend for years. It was for “emergencies,” and in 1971, my credit limit was a whopping $1,500, I think. Over the years I kept the card even though I moved around a lot, the little blue envelope arriving every month. BankAmericard became Visa and the balance slowly crept up with occasional drops when fortunes turned good, and it became the lifeboat of sorts when the radiator — or tires or head gasket — blew out on the Jeep Wagoneer or the Subaru or the Pontiac. Other credit cards came and went, but the OC Visa was my little reminder of my past, even when it became National City Bank and no one knew me at the bank.

When I moved to Miami, I charged the moving expenses to the Visa card, and soon thereafter transfered the balance to a Capital One card, the obnoxious commercials with David Spade notwithstanding. And today, it’s all paid off, and as soon as I get the closing statement, I’ll cancel the card.

I know banks like to come across as your best friend and ally in fulfilling your life’s dreams, but we all know that they’re a business and they sell money. So I’m not feeling any wistfulness about saying goodbye to this little slice of my life.

The payments I was making to it will, at long last, go into my savings…or help pay down my new best friend, Citibank.