I got my Amex Platinum for the clout — but I’m educating myself about the risks – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

I got my Amex Platinum for the clout — but I’m educating myself about the risks

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The author, Jamie Valentino.

Courtesy of Jamie Valentino

I didn’t really know much about my credit card before I got it — I just knew it was a status symbol.
I talked to a financial therapist about my card. She says it’s okay to indulge within your budget.
I’m learning more about my card and how to enjoy its benefits safely — both tangible and intangible.

I used to be the kind of person who’d part with his last hundred dollars to buy drinks for strangers at the bar, valuing appearance over survival.

Aging has helped me slay many of my character flaws, but caring about what people think remains the Achilles’ heel of my existence. But my ego is more exhausting than just desiring to be liked as a person; I want folks to think highly of me.

So I’ll admit I got The Platinum Card® from American Express for the clout. I thought I was financially savvy and ready to get one of the best credit cards. Technically, I’ve felt this before, but this was the first time the credit card company agreed and approved.

I couldn’t determine my credit limit from the app when the card arrived. I called, and the customer service rep explained I didn’t have one. This sounded insane to me. I was far away from zero, past billionaires, in the land of infinity.

I don’t know where my fixation on getting an Amex came from. I didn’t know all the particulars of the card, yet I held it in prestige. It could be because of group dinners where the more successful individuals tended to sport one. It could also just be that the name is synonymous with fabulosity.

No matter how it happened, it permeated my brain without me knowing how it got there, simmering long enough in my self-esteem to make me feel like my worth was in danger without it.

Getting an Amex didn’t change my finances or my life, and I knew it wouldn’t

I held my Amex Platinum card as I did with my driver’s license when I was 16. It was gorgeous. This felt like more than an accomplishment but a passageway into the next phase of adulting.

As a New Yorker, I haven’t driven in 10 years, but I’ve been swiping a credit card ever since. I’ve been training for this moment my whole life.

When I pulled it out for coffee, the card failed to inspire any reaction. I’m not sure what I expected the barista to do besides move on to the next customer.

Still, it was akin to women posing for photos with their designer handbags front and center. I didn’t just use my Amex — it became like an accessory. I invited my family to dinner as if I was breaking into a new outfit. I genuinely enjoyed the experience of using it.

Financial therapist Aja Evans says my Amex credit card is one way of coping with self-esteem issues, but it’s a bandage. The problem “is really about the pedestal we put people who have money on and the false narratives that we apply to them,” Evans says. “Somebody could be making millions of dollars and still be drowning in debt.”

I knew my net worth wasn’t higher just because of my credit card. And I begrudgingly knew it’s what’s inside that matters. Still, I felt giddy using it at my hair salon and grocery shopping, even with the annual membership fee.

I don’t want to go into debt to maintain appearances

Evans says it’s OK to indulge if it’s in your budget and you can afford it. In fact, she recommends it. “But you need to be able to like yourself whether you have it or not — and not get stuck on the second part. It’s important to recognize why you want something,” says Evans.

Many people get the Amex for its reward points and other perks. Financially, I was a backward train. I initially wanted the American Express® Gold Card because I had seen a friend use it. I was disappointed to be approved for the Platinum, not realizing it ranked higher. Clearly, I wasn’t a specialist.

Evans explains that society places so much value on people who have money because of their material things. That fosters the notion that individuals with these wealth signifiers are better off as humans. This mindset leaves many feeling inadequate and frequently indebted as they strive to attain them.

If I have an Amex Platinum, you obviously don’t have to be wealthy to get one. Plenty of people have closets and cars worth more than their checking account.

But at the end of the day, most people look at luxury and fantasize about wielding it. They don’t focus on their friends and how fabulous they are or are not living. None of the people around me care about what credit card I use.

I did it for myself. Hopefully, as I approach my 30s, I’ll continue to derive less pleasure from material possessions and enjoy the person beyond my reflection. I got my Amex because I had a fixation, but at least I’m aware of it — and the fact that I should pay off the balance fully every month to avoid high APRs.

Products in this post: The Platinum Card® from American Express – Product Name Only, American Express® Gold Card – Product Name Only

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