I was thinking this week about the increasingly evil world of credit cards. This was triggered by a post on the BBC webnews a few days ago which observed that those good citizens who paid their credit cards off in full every month sometimes got caught out, because the CC companies have taken to arbitrarily altering the date by which payment must be recieved with the precise intention of catching them out — I was particularly delighted by the comment of a CC company talking head which was on the lines of, ‘You must understand, we don’t make a lot of money out of these people.’ I had a credit card which got awfully heavy; to do with the awfulness of sorting out lovely but impractical old houses, people available for work not coinciding with cashflow and all that. Suffice it to say that it ended up with £10,000 odds on it, which is a heck of a lot of money to owe in unsecured, randomly acquired debt. But with every passing year, my credit was extended. As of last summer, I could certainly have put half as much again on it, i.e., £15,000, though they knew absolutely nothing about my overall credit position since they were no longer my bank and had not had that honour for ten years. At the end of last summer, due to increased prosperity, I paid the lot off at once. It might be reasonably assumed, therefore, that I had a rather longer purse than had once been the case & was good for a fair bit in the way of extended credit. I did raise my eyebrows, therefore, on opening an envelope just to check that the balance still stood and zero and they hadn’t invented some interesting charges, to find that I was currently entitled to borrow £250, which is not enough to buy a new fridge freezer, let alone to cover the moments when one suddenly and drastically needs a card, such as being in New York and needing to call a cab, go to La Guardia and catch the next plane. It does rather crisply illustrate the extent to which the credit card has ceased to be any of the things it was originally touted as — perhaps I should get Amex, which, because it was always designed to be paid off by the month, is a slightly more scrutable concept.