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Do You Memorize Your Credit Card Number?

credit cardIt happened about a year ago. I needed to pay for something online and I realized I had no idea what my credit card number was. At the time it was a frustrating moment. I used to memorize my credit card number, and the inconvenience of having to get up out of my chair, walk over to my purse, pull out my wallet, and get the number from my credit card was an annoyance. But then I realized – I hadn’t bought anything online in so long that I had forgotten my credit card number. The minor annoyance was actually the sign of a big accomplishment!

I think it’s pretty safe to say that if you memorize your credit card number, you’re using it too much. Now, my fiancĂ© will argue, “but I memorize my credit card number and I barely spend any money!” This is true, but he also memorizes my cell phone number, the birthdays of every family member and friend, and the FedEx account number of a stranger who said it out loud to the cashier while he was waiting on line (no, he doesn’t fraudulently use her FedEx account). There will always be exceptions to any rule, but for most people, whether or not you memorize your credit card number is a good barometer for your spending habits.

If you’ve failed the test and you have your credit card number committed to memory, it’s time to evaluate your spending patterns and make a change. Cutting up your card or freezing it in ice won’t do it, since your problem is online spending (though it can certainly be a help if you also pull out your credit card too often at restaurants and department stores). Here are a few things you can do to reduce the urge to buy things online:

Unsubscribe From Emails

I used to get daily emails from three discount apparel sites. Each day, I would click through to see what the daily deals were. True, these sites offered a lot of great stuff for a fraction of the retail price, but even at 75% off, it’s not a good deal if you weren’t already planning on buying it. Unsubscribe from these emails immediately and you will soon get out of the habit of checking the sites daily. Removing temptations is the single most important step you can take to getting a better handle on your spending.

Unfollow on Twitter and Unlike on Facebook

Along the same lines as unsubscribing from emails, take away any reminders that may pop up on social media. These may not be as frequent or as conspicuous as emails sitting in your inbox, but they have the same effect. You should never be one click away from a site where you’re likely to spend money, so make sure no ads or promotions find their way into your social media. In fact, you may want to ignore Facebook entirely, since they post plenty of dangerous ads on the sidebar. Hell, stop reading my blog if the ads on the side are too tempting (though based on the complete lack of affiliate income I’ve received, I’m guessing they’re not).

Request a New Credit Card

If you go to your credit card’s website, you can report your card as lost or stolen to get a new number. Now the number you have memorized is completely useless! This will add an additional step if you want to buy something online, giving you a few extra moments to rethink your purchase. Any roadblocks you can put up to make it even the tiniest bit more difficult to spend money are good. Do remember to update your credit card number for any automatic payments you have set up, though.

17 Responses to Do You Memorize Your Credit Card Number?

  1. I have never remembered my credit card numbers. I can memorize all my many passwords and many other numbers, but I never tried to memorize them. I think it would be a bad idea. I used my credit cards a lot, but just never remembered them. Maybe it was because I had too many.

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      I can’t even remember my passwords. And when I’m on the phone with a customer service rep who asks for the last 4 digits of my social security number, I have to think really hard to retrieve the numbers. I always wonder if the rep thinks I sound suspicious. :)

  2. I know my credit card number(s), driver’s license (H/W), Social Security numbers (H/W), 10-15 passwords and numerous telephone numbers. As a former CFO, accountant, financial and numbers guy, I just remember all of them. As good as I am with numbers, I don’t remember names. Oh well!

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      So you’re almost as crazy as my fiance (he remembers names too). I’m always amazed when I can remember anything.

  3. I have hard enough time remembering passwords and pin numbers let along credit card numbers even though we use them all the time. I can tell you the last 2 digits of the one card I use a lot because I pay it online at my bank and I do know my debit card number by memory.

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      They’re so long as well! It’s way too many digits to remember unless I’m typing them in all the time.

  4. I can barely remember all my logins and passwords, so I definitely don’t have my credit card number memorized (although I do remember the 4 digit security code on my amex). I don’t really have a good memory for numbers.

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      Funny story: I just got an amex, and I used it to purchase cat food online last week. I had to enter the security code, and since I’m used to my visa, I flipped the card over and found what I thought was a 3 digit security code on the back. I entered the number about 5 times and got 5 error messages before I figured out that the amex security code was the 4 digit number on the front of the card. What are the 3 digits on the back of the card for if they’re not the security code?

  5. I memorized my credit card number, and I also have a few old credit cards stored in my head as well.

    In contrast, my wife has to ask me for her social security number.

    I don’t think it’s from using my credit card too much, I simply have good memory and have a ton of numbers that are saved in my head.

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      Maybe how good your memory is plays a bigger role than I thought. Seems there are plenty of people like my fiance out there who just remember everything. I like the dichotomy of responses though, some people who remember every single number and password, and others who can barely keep even passwords and pins in our heads.

  6. Yeah, same here. I have never even tried to memorize my cc#. I only have so much brain space:)

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      I have a terrible memory, but I used to use my credit card to buy things online so often that it just stuck.

  7. There’s already way too many things to memorize that I’ve never been able or tried to memorize our credit card numbers. I maybe remember the first four numbers, but its never in the right sequence.

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      I didn’t try to memorize my number, it just happened because I was using my credit card too much. Now I only use my credit card to buy groceries, toiletries, gas, and the occasional restaurant meal. Probably about once every one to two months something comes up that I need to get online (usually cat food), and I haven’t the slightest idea what my number is.

  8. I sure do, along with my bank account number, tax number, and some important phone numbers. People definitely give me a hard time about it ;)

    I really only use it when I pay my various bills online each month (I don’t like to set up direct debits and give companies access to my CC that way, so I do it manually). Otherwise, the only online shopping I can think of over the past few years has been concert tickets and maybe one or two clothing purchases for the boy (he doesn’t have a CC of his own).

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      Wow, you only have to recall your cc# once a month and you still have it memorized? That’s an impressive memory!

  9. I have 3 credit cards, and I know all of the numbers.In all fairness, I also know my the number on my drivers licence.

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