Visa tactics.

(Last) Featured Girl

Morishita Chisato

Well, that’s it. No more Featured Girl. I had a huge queue piled up for the past two months that I handpicked and uploaded, and this is the end of the queue. I hope you all enjoyed it while it lasted. However, this doesn’t mean the end of all idol activity on my blog… no no no. You can expect to see photos of new idol merchandise that I get. Mind you, it won’t be the same, but at least I won’t be using other people’s scans and photos.

I got a haircut two days ago. It sucks. The hairstylist took off the back just fine but started me from scratch again – she cut off a lot from the hair that framed my face! That was the bit that I was concentrating on growing, and she took it off! Now I look like some evil Beatle/Trent-Reznor-from-With-Teeth-era knockoff. Ugly!!!

I made a lot of money so far, and I also spent a lot. I don’t even know how much I have in my Visa at the moment, but I’ve been throwing money in there like crazy. I’m pretty sure I’m somewhere within the vicinity of my credit limit amount, but in the negative zone. Does anybody else do that? I love Visa because of all the conveniences of shopping anywhere with it, but I also love it because the governments can’t audit you or make credit checks on it due to Visa being a private organization. Visa is serious about your privacy, from what I’ve learned from the banks and financial retirees, so they’ve often suggested that if you ever make money under the table, put it in the Visa to avoid paying taxes on it. I fix computers on the side, and although I make a lot of money from it, I wouldn’t call it big money on the whole. It’s just pocket change that lets me pay off the Visa and buy my Japanese media without cutting into my primary income. However, recently, people have been calling me up from out of nowhere and asking me to fix their boxes and laptops. Although I didn’t mean to, I made a lot last month, almost a quarter of what I make from NexInnovations. Eek. Still, things will eventually quiet down after the winter is over, and then I’ll have to be cautious with my spending once again. I’ve been quite the spendthrift lately, though, so I’ll have to curb that so I can afford the surprise pre-orders later on.

Not entirely clear about the whole negative balance on Visa thing? Let me clarify it all. When you have a Visa, you have a credit limit – basic knowledge. Let’s use a $1000 credit limit for example. It should be easy to understand that when your balance is at $400, that means you owe Visa $400 before you can go back to $0. You see all those cute Visa commercials on TV where something unbelievable happens to make the balance on the Visa bill $0? That’s why it’s a good thing. A $0 balance means you owe them nothing, and you would have that fictional $1000 to spend. You’ve probably heard of people “racking up” a Visa. That only means that they’ve used up most, if not all, of their credit limit. Racked up balances could be exactly $1000 balances or even $999 balances – basically, right at the limit. Again, each would mean that you owe Visa $1000 and $999 respectively. If you carry the balance over to the next month, Visa will charge you whatever percentage on your owing balance. Pretend that your Visa has a 14% annual interest rate. This means that Visa will charge you 1.17% per month on your owing balance. For example, at the end of December, let’s say that your owing balance is $450. Visa would charge you 1.17% interest, which calculates out to be $5.27. That would be tacked on to your owing balance, and your NEW owing balance would be $455.27. Simple, right? There’s always a cost to using a credit card. Now, $5.27 isn’t much, but imagine what would happen if you had an $8000 credit limit that’s been racked up. You’d see an interest charge of $93.60!!! This is where Visa makes their money. However, there’s a smart way around this. I call it, the Visa Debit Card method.

Everybody has a debit card, right? It’s Plus, if you live in the US, and Interac, if you live in Canada. I think a friend told me that in Europe, the debit card and credit card is unified in some way, but I’m digressing there. Back on topic, banks usually charge you for debit card usage, whether it be for purchases or ATM withdrawals. It’s usually a fee per use, or a static monthly fee. The Visa Debit Card negates all of this (unless you have an annual fee on your Visa, but that’s easily overcome if you make minimum annual purchases with it – check your specific card contract). I mentioned about a negative balance before. This is the secret. Visa states in their contracts that they have to right to charge you interest on any owing balance over $0. That means that if you have a $0.01 owing balance, they can charge you interest on it. However, once you hit $0, they can’t charge you. Besides, mathematically, it’s sound. Any percentage of zero is zero. However, let’s say, for example, your owing balance for the month is $10.12 with interest already included. If you paid Visa $11, you’d have a negative balance of $0.88. Now, because you are below $0, Visa can’t charge you interest on that -$0.88. If you were to spend that $0.88 and bring it back to zero, they still can’t charge you interest. See where I’m getting? Now, let’s say that your balance is $0. I see some people these days that use the negative balance. Let’s say that Taro-kun has a Visa with a $0 balance. He wants to buy a DVD box set for $100, but he doesn’t want to get charged interest. He can do three things:

(a) Buy the box set and pay $100 to his Visa before the end of the month.
(b) Pay $100 to his Visa FIRST, and then buy the box set.
(c) Don’t buy the box set.

Hahaha, not buying the box set was just a logical choice, but as humans, we’re illogical, so scratch that option. Anyway, the majority of people that I know use option (a). It’s smart, but what if you can’t pay that $100 off fast enough? This is where I suggest option (b). If you have the money already (which is not common for most people, but bear with me), use option (b). In this way, you guarantee that you won’t get charged interest.

Now, let’s say that you changed your mind about buying the box set. You now have a -$100 balance. Visa can’t charge you interest on it, and you can keep the money in there as long as you want. However, Visa requires that you spend money after a certain period of time or else they will cancel the Visa, but if that happens, they send you a check for the negative balance you had. No risk.

Now, let’s go the extra mile. Let’s say you had a job that paid you under the table, like me. Continuous, high paying, but infrequent. Take that money and put it in the Visa. Let’s say you were already at a $0 balance. You keep paying the Visa, accumulating a lot of money in there. You now have a lot of buying power. You can walk into any store, point at an expensive item, and pay for it without fretting over the interest charges. Cool, eh?

There, of course, are always downsides to this method. Although this can save you on interest, it also doesn’t earn you any interest. Mathematicallly, this does not make sense – if you have an positive (owing) balance, you can calculate your interest using the interest rate. On a $0 balance, the interest rate doesn’t apply. However, on a negative balance, if you attempt to calculate the interest, you’d find that Visa would have to owe you money instead of the other way around. Negative balance on a Visa is money that is yours and yours alone. Wouldn’t it make sense that Visa should pay you interest? Of course not, because then they wouldn’t be in business. I don’t know if this little loophole is actually in their contract, but I’d love to see somebody try to do something about it. Hahaha.

Another con to the Visa Debit Card method is that you earn no money for keeping your money in the Visa. Visa is not a bank, they are corporate loan sharks, to be blunt. Your money will be worth the same amount ten years from now if you don’t spend it. Oops.

So, the final word is this – if you plan to utilize the Visa Debit Card method, do so, but with a plan to spend it eventually in mind. Eventually is key here, as you shouldn’t wait several years to spend it. Don’t use this method to buy things that requires years of saving and accumulation. Think of the Visa as a piggy bank. When you need it, break it open. Also, if you’re the type that likes to show off your spending habits, nobody else has to know that you’re actually paying cash… but with a Visa.


Additional Resources

The one with all the Lesson Reviews.

I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with this blog ever since I started using Hummingbird last fall. So, I decided to try an idea of mine called Lesson Reviews. Essentially, it’s more of a “what I learned from X anime” than a review, but the thing is, there will be good and […]


  1. Friend from Europe here:

    In the US they have Bank Cards (Debit Cards) issued by the bank, that have VISA or Mastercard logos on them. This means that they are a “Visa Debit” or “Mastercard Debit” cards. They have an expiry date and a security code, and you can use them anywhere VISA/MC is accepted — BUT — they are not credit cards – your balance available is reflective of the balance in your bank account. You don’t need to enter in a pin for these cards in order to pay for things (ie. where visa is accepted). In the states you cannot swipe your bank card and pay for something by entering your PIN.

    In Canada they have bank cards that are issued directly by the bank, and are tied in to your account. There is an ‘Interact’ network that allows any machine on the network to access and manipulate any account on the network, provided the card data and the pin are provided. So each bank retains control of their fees, cards, etc but the InterAct network just allows interoperability so everyone benefits. In Canada, the banks get RICH.

    The PLUS network is another banking network that ties together ATMs to financial institutions. If your bank card has a PLUS logo on it, then you can take money from a PLUS atm. Likewise, if your Visa has a PLUS logo, you can take money from any PLUS atm. It is merely a network between the ATM and the financial institution (your account). For Mastercard they have a system called Cirrus which is equivilent to the Plus, and their equivilent of InterAct (although much less unpopular) is Maestro.

    In Europe things work nearly identical as the United States, except the branding of the services are different. Here we have “Visa Electron”. Although Visa Electron is available overseas, it is relatively unused and unheard of.

    I can’t speak for the rest of Europe, but here in Greece I don’t pay ANY bank fees, except if I use another banks ATM to pull out cash. I can take out as much money as I want, as often as I want – and I pay no service charges. My card has the Visa Electron logo, so I can use my card anywhere Visa is accepted and I also don’t pay any fees.

    I am not sure how Visa makes money with debit cards. My guess is that by filling the world with Visa debit cards, they are increasing the number of locations Visa Credit cards are accepted, and that helps them in the long run.

  2. Hey, man, good to see that you’re alive. So, when are you coming to Canada again? Mid-Spring?

    Anyway, thanks for the add info, though you spelled Interac wrong. ^_^

    Read your e-mail for the rest…

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