Leaving your harm doer

Should I get an emergency credit card?

Emergency credit cards are a powerful tool that can provide you with the ability to quickly make purchases to leave and stay away from dangerous situations. For example, one survivor we interviewed used her emergency credit card to pay for a taxi and hotel room to escape escalating abuse at home. 

Obtaining and using a credit card requires careful safety and financial planning. The following is information to help you determine if an emergency credit card is right for you.

What is an emergency credit card

A credit card is a powerful tool that can help you attain financial security, but it is also a costly tool if mismanaged.

In brief, a credit card allows you to indirectly borrow money from a bank so you can purchase things you need, such as a meal, gas, or groceries. Every month you will receive a credit card statement communicating how much you spent and need to pay back. If you can manage to pay back the entire amount owed every month that is ideal. The interest rates on credit cards are usually quite high, at around 15% and above, so the sooner you can pay down your card, the less you’ll spend on interest fees.

Your emergency credit card would be just that: something you use only in an emergency. Having a credit card in your figurative back pocket can give you some comfort; it will be there when you need it, and you will be able to pay it back little by little, if that’s what you have to do.  

To understand how to manage a credit card, it is first important to understand how they work. If you are unfamiliar with credit cards, we recommend viewing iQ Credit Union’s Financial Foundations course Credit Cards. Topics in this course include:

  • How credit cards work
  • 5 benefits to credit cards
  • The cost of credit cards
  • How to pick a credit card
  • Card security and fraud prevention

Before Applying For A Credit Card

  • Know how credit works. In order to responsibly use credit cards, it is important to understand how they impact your credit. To learn more about credit, view our module “What do I need to know about my credit?”
  • Create a plan for making payments. Before using a credit card, have a plan to pay it off as soon as possible and ensure all monthly minimum payments are made.
  • Have a safe physical address you can provide. To apply for a credit card, you will be required to provide your physical home address. There is no way to 100% ensure the credit card company will not send mail to your home, even if you provide a separate mailing address, opt to go paperless, and explain your situation. If you live with your harm doer, this could be a potential risk.
  • Know this will appear on your credit report. Applications for credit cards will appear on your credit report. If your harm doer knows your full legal name, date of birth, and social security number, they may be able to access your credit report online, which could make applying for a card a potential safety risk to you. 
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