My Credit Card

Muga-Golden-Credit-CardGOOD GRIEF!

My wife was opening mail.

From where I sat in the living room, I could not see what she was doing, but I knew what she was talking about because I recognized the Good Grief as her mail opening one.

“You haven’t been redeeming your rewards!” she cried.

“What rewards?”

“Your credit card rewards.”

The very mention of my credit card makes me grumpy. Every time I use it, it is a major struggle.

There I will be – standing before the altar of commerce at the Quickie-Mart where a surly clerk glares at me with annoyance because I have interrupted his texting. He wants me gone about as much as I want to be gone, but before I can go, I must pay for my purchases and to do that, I must pay homage to the dreaded Quickie-Mart card reader:

Please Insert You Card

Following its instructions, I insert my card.



Excuse me? My card is clearly marked as a credit card.

The magnetic strip on the back contains my name, address, birth date, security number, political leanings, dining preferences and the fact that I once accused a Quickie-Mart employee of being a jerk.

Like all bank cards, the magnetic strip also holds a GUID (global unique identifier) that is the digital key which provides instant access to my purchasing history, internet browsing history and every rude comment I have ever made on Facebook.

Yet this machine cannot tell if my card taps into a credit or debit account?

Perhaps it is just making sure that I am paying attention, so I poke the space on the screen that indicates credit.

Chip cannot be read

“Turn it around,” the jerk behind the counter commands, “Put the chip end in first.”

He tells me this every time I come in.

“The chip end is in,” I tell him.

He is not impressed. “Try it again,” he tells me.

Chip cannot be read

“Again…,” the clerk growls with growing annoyance.

Chip cannot be read

“Swipe the $%#@ thing through the reader,” he says in utter disgust.

I swipe the card.

Card has chip. Insert card into reader

“Now what do I do?” I ask the clerk.

“Insert your card into the reader,” he says.

I do.


…and for this I get rewards?


“You have 38,000 rewards points!” my wife tells me.

“Is that a lot?”

She gets a funny look on her face. “I don’t know, but it sure sounds like a lot.”

Things like this baffle me. It is not the rewards gimmick that confounds me, it is the ease with which bewildered consumers so readily accept such absurdities.

I mean….. who pays for rewards?

Clue: it is not the bank.

It is usually skimmed off the retailer, who simply passes the cost back to the consumer. So in effect, we are charging ourselves to reward ourselves for spending money that we do not have.

It sounds like something only a bank could dream up.

“Why don’t you go to their website and see what you can redeem for 38,000 points?” my wife suggests.

Not a bad idea.

I go to their website and browse. The stuff they offer is the exact same stuff you see in those in-flight catalogs. Let me be clear on this, I have never once been tempted to buy anything in a sky-mart catalog.

Later that day, I find myself in line at the Quickie-Mart, watching as the guy ahead of me inserts his card into the reader.


The reader reads it without even asking the dreaded debt or credit question.

“Wow!” the clerk exclaims, “that’s a first.”

“What do you mean?” the guy says, “I’ve never had a problem with that card.”

“Hey, wait a minute,” the clerk says, “let me see that thing.”

The guy hands it over.

“It says FIFTH STREET PARKING RAMP.  This is your parking pass, what are you trying to pull?”

“Like I said,” the guy tells him, “I’ve never had a problem with it here before.”

Author: Almost Iowa

52 thoughts on “My Credit Card”

  1. Sometimes you just need to know when to say when. For me the third insert into the chip machine is enough to get me going crooked.

  2. Yup, happens every time, issues with reading the card. Well, almost every time. I was not amused when, recently, the local license bureau tacked on a credit card processing fee. I suppose those folks can do that given they have zero competition.

    Sometimes I wish we could just barter everything. Here, I’ll give you a poem for that loaf of bread…

    1. the local license bureau tacked on a credit card processing fee. I suppose those folks can do that given they have zero competition.


      You have to understand government.

      You also have to understand lawyers.

      “Our law firm, Dewey, Chetum & Howe is suing the DVS and DNR on behalf of the class of consumers who pay by cash and check, who were charged the same as credit card users whose fees were covered by the state. This is a gross injustice and while we cannot identify anyone in this class, we will vigorously pursue compensation (collecting one third for our coffers)”

      If Dewey, Chetum & How tried that with Wal-Mart or Target, their lawyers would tell them to suck eggs – but government don’t work that way, dotchya know.

  3. The only time I use a credit card other than on the internet anymore is when I go to the hairstylist. I don’t have to do anything but hand her my card. She handles the transaction for me.

    1. Not a bad route to go if you know the person running the card, but if you don’t – that is how cards get duplicated. Card copiers are readily available on ebay and Amazon.

  4. I am going to carry my parking pass in my purse at all times now, just to feed into those awful machines. Thanks for the tip! Because so far, my experience has been exactly like yours whenever I try to use a credit or debit card….I hate those things. And dread the day we really do become a “cashless society.”

    1. Soon after we moved to Almost Iowa, I went into the local John Deere dealership to purchase a lawn tractor. The unit was expensive, over $5,000 (I have a very large lawn). When I tried to pay with my credit card, the clerk pointed to a note taped to the counter that stated credit cards were not accepted. The dealer did not want to pay the bank fee. Instead, they take checks.

      I did not have my checkbook and told the clerk I would be back after the weekend. “No problem,” he said, “but take the tractor now. We don’t know you but we know your family.”

  5. Sometimes a balky reader can be a good thing. Once, while at 37,000 feet I was trying to buy a “delicious” airline meal and the card kept rejecting. Guess that’s one way to get a free meal. Of course, there was that time nobody could get out of the parking lot…

    I don’t know if my bank offers cash back, but I think I could buy myself an Amazon gift card and use it for pretty much anything.

    1. I asked the bank for a new card. The readers like new cards, at least for a while. Hmmmmm, considering your airline story, I might want to hold onto my old one. It could be useful in some cases.

  6. I have the same problem with those chip readers. Regarding award points… I have over a quarter million Allstate reward points. That’s enough for $10 off a $200 dollar “reward.” Why can’t I just get a discount on my car insurance? Argh.

    1. My sister lived in Brazil when their inflation rate exceeded 2,000%. She told us how the stores changed prices four times a day and the instant anyone received hard currency, they rushed to spend it.

      In other words, maybe you should rush to spend those rewards now. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  7. Good one! Why they ask the debit/credit question is a mystery. Even if it’s a debit card, I punch credit, because otherwise I’ll have to come up with a PIN number! The only rewards worth anything are cash back. Avoid shopping like the plague, especially this time of year.

    1. Somebody duplicated my wife’s debt card. It is easier than you think and went on a spree across the midwest, hitting every Walmart for $40. Apparently, Walmart does not ask for a PIN for purchases under $50.

      1. That’s a drag. Someone stole one of my credit card numbers not long ago. At least with credit, they can’t just take money out of your bank account.

  8. Meanwhile my husband, avoiding card readers and lines, shops Black Friday online. First store directs him to some dire “verify your card” site, but none of his passwords work. Next store is based in England and his card gets refused. He’s in line on the phone now, waiting to persuade the credit card company to let him buy his stuff – so even e-shopping lands you standing in line (well, sitting I guess).

    1. Perhaps he is experiencing the same thing I do. Wherever I go, the store’s system recognize me as the guy who only buys a new shirt twice a decade. It then shuffles me off to some out of the way digital zone so that resources can be focused on the paying customers.

  9. I’m convinced some of these readers send out a signal to all other customers in the store, convincing them to check out at the same time as well, so you end up with 17 people behind you, all of them growing increasingly frustrated as you continue to fail at foreplay with the unit…

    1. It’s called the Internet of Things (IOT). IOT allows machines to browse Facebook, take selfies and watch cat videos just like people do. It is why millions of machine suddenly get the same idea and nothing works.

    1. I should have written something about standing in line since Monday to buy a 76′ 4K TV – but then my wife won’t let me have one. She says I should think more about my chores than my TV watching.

      I’m a victim.

  10. Wasn’t the smart chip supposed to make our life easier?
    As for rewards, our bank started a program 2 years ago where you earn points for every dollar you spend on your debit Master Card. I paid absolutely no attention to it, until they sent me an email saying I needed to redeem my rewards because they were doing away with the program. It was filled with fantastic SkyMiles catalog merchandise, none of which I had enough points to get. I did however find a tiny hidden button saying redeem for cash. The next day $98 was deposited in my account. No wonder they did away with it!

    1. In other words, “here is your $98 back. Too bad we couldn’t keep it.” I means like those poor dear over-compensated bank executives could use a little extra cash, you know.

      1. Well, it’s weird because we cut up all our credit cards years ago and this is just a debit. So I was spending my money, not theirs…. but they gave me money to do so. Wish I’d figured it out sooner. I would have used it more.

      1. Anything can prevent the card reader from reading. The first 25 lines of code with the new chip readers are : make them insert it again. The next paragraph double checks and asks are you sure you don’t want to insert again ? The third paragraph asks did a pigeon just fly by ? We might need to insert it again just to make sure…

    1. I did. I ordered a sound bar for our television. Now she can turn to the 70’s Classic Disco channel to drive me out of the house while she is quilting. Works every time.

      1. We have talked about getting one too, always another gadget to buy. Show my blog photo to your wife, us quilters always enjoy seeing each other’s work.

  11. Your experience with your CREDIT card is the same as mine. I’ve come to believe that this whole chip/swipe fiasco is a modern take on Candid Camera. Somewhere we’re being recorded for a TV show in which someone will mock us all for even trying to use a credit card. Hilarity will ensue.

  12. The dreaded, unmaintained card reader. You would think they could at least blow the dust out of the slot once a month.

    The one that bothers me is Walgreens, where the clerk sometimes asks if I want to redeem my points toward the bottle of Tylenol. “No! These are bonus points, I’m not using them for Tylenol. I’ll wait until I’m buying candy.”

    1. The online retailers know more about you than you know yourself. Recently, Amazon sent me a notification informing me that I was two hours late for feeding the cats. They then sent me several offers for cat food and promised (for a hefty fee) to have them delivered for the evening meal.

    1. Maybe you guys could vote to Brexit some of the habits you picked up from US. Seriously, the French, Germans and Italians are full of bad habits. I don’t know why you hang out with them. 🙂

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