It’s crunch time. Dinner is digesting, and you slowly reach for your wallet in case he has the audacity to suggest going Dutch. An awesome wave of relief washes over you when he insists on paying – at least he’s not a total cheapskate.
What he pulls out of his wallet tell you a lot about this guy, in terms of his personality, his credit, and his financial situation. I leave you with these tips for deciding on whether you should run for the hills.
So, what does he pay with?
1. Cash or a prepaid debit card
Breaking the bank, or breaking the law?
Anyone with a legally documented job probably has a checking account, which comes with a bank debit card. Many people also have credit cards. That means you should seriously question why your date would paying with a prepaid debit card, or even cash, at a decent restaurant. The most likely explanations are (i)he has recently filed for bankruptcy, or (ii) he is trying to get rid of piles of illegally obtained cash.
Spotting a prepaid debit card is easy. One obvious sign being that it’s issued by a bank you’ve never heard of. The most popular ones are the WalMartMoneyCard, Green Dot, AccountNow, Vision, Silver, Western Union, and Ace.
2. A bank debit card
Former debt-a-holic, or just lazy?
More than half of America’s plastic swiping now happens on bank debit cards, usually by people who don’t want to have to keep track of credit card bills, or have had trouble managing their credit card debt in the past. Debit cards are the primary recovery tool of the Orman/Ramsey crowd of recovering debt fiends.
3. A business credit card
Defrauding the IRS, or defrauding his employer?
Business credit cards are easy to spot, because they typically say “Business” in bold letters on the front, or they display a corporate logo that isn’t a bank. If he pays with one of these cards, he is defrauding the IRS for half the dinner bill.
If he doesn’t own a business, then his employer is paying for your dinner, and is involuntarily defrauding the IRS. If he does own a business, and the date doesn’t go so well, remember to report him to the IRS and get 15%-30% of what they recover from him as a whistle-blowing fee.
4. An American Express Centurion (Black) card
Obsessed with image? Or maybe he just really needs airport lounge access and a concierge service.
One one hand, you know he is well off. But if he is actually willing to pay $5,000 to get a black card, and then an extra $2,500 per year to renew the Titanium rectangle of elite douchebaggery, you have to think twice about his personality (if the baby seal interior on his Hummer and his orphan-tear martinis didn’t already clue you in). I’m no relationship expert, but this kind of guy is the type to get divorced biannually.
For those of you who think there are perks to owning a black card that justify the expense, I beg to differ. If you spend a quarter million dollars per year, you probably have an assistant, and you probably fly business or first class. So what’s the point of having a concierge or free lounge access?
5. An American Express Platinum or Gold card
Wishes he could qualify for a black card.
This guy stays up at night fantasizing about one day owning a Black card. He is willing to pay $175 or $450 per year for no tangible benefit. The fact is, he’d have to drink the airport lounge dry about 9 times per year to breakeven on the $450 Platinum annual fee. Meanwhile he could have been earning big travel rewards with no annual fee on any number of other cards.
6. A Discover Escape or Costco credit card
This guy is more concerned about saving money than his image.
These are amazing rewards cards, but they come from Discover and Costco, not the sexiest brands on the planet.They are definitely the choice of someone who doesn’t care much what other people think about his plastic, which may carry over into other areas of life as well.There’s a good chance he’s looking forward to fatherhood… if that’s your thing.
7. Citibank Platinum Select, or Discover More
He may be recovering from student loans or similar debt, but at least his credit is good.
This person has one of the premier balance transfer credit cards. He probably carries a credit card balance, but he has to have good credit. These cards are specifically targeted towards people with good credit who want low introductory rates to help them dig out of a (presumably) temporary hole. So at least he’s on the right track.
When things don’t add up, run for the hills
There you have it, NerdWallet’s guide to (potentially unfair) snap judgments based solely on credit card choices.Who knows, maybe it will save you some time in your next dating escapade.
– A guy with tons of money and a prepaid debit card? Probably into a life of crime, move on.
– A guy with an Amex Platinum or Centurion card? Check his ring finger for tan lines; you may just be his new hobby.
– And a guy with a Costco card? Might be asking you how many kids you want to have before the second date is over.
(Prom photo by Joe Shlabotnik)