You put WHAT on your credit card? 8 strange but true charges


Oddball charges include a Smurf-cleaning, 1,728 clown noses, $10,000 worth of XXX

Personal Finance Writer
Consumer finance expert, author and “Opening Credits” columnist.

You put WHAT on your credit card? 8 strange but true charges


benefit of having a credit card is the purchasing freedom it provides. While
typically used to finance life’s little emergencies, some transactions are far outside the mainstream.

While standard retail purchases, home and car repairs and other ordinary costs are routinely
slapped on credit cards, they’re pretty boring compared to these eight odd,
funny and most embarrassing goods and services people have put on their cards.



1. 1,728 clown noses

San Francisco “Jollytologist” Allen Klein
is the author of “The Healing Power of Humor and Secrets Kids Know.” He’s
also a speaker for corporate and nonprofit organization events, helping
employees relieve stress and job burnout by implementing humor into their
routine. “I give out red sponge-rubber clown noses to everyone in my audience
when I’m doing a keynote speech or workshop,” says Klein. “I have them close
their eyes, put the noses on, imagine something stressful, then open their eyes
and look around. Everyone starts laughing. It’s very effective!” Because his
gigs are large scale, Klein orders
the items by the case, which amounts to nearly 2,000 noses at a time.


2. $10,000 worth of

When Sean McCabe from Los Angeles was a college student,
he worked as a part-time assistant at a business that distributed unique
adult-only products. One task involved him fulfilling a substantial order for a
Las Vegas trade show, using the company credit card. “These were things that
people would consider pretty fettishy,” says McCabe. “Nothing was over $200 and
some were really cheap. It took me two days of going though websites and
catalogs from Asia and Europe to have enough for the show. When I was done, the
final bill was over $10,000. It was definitely weird to charge all that. I
never did tell my parents what I did for money in my senior year!”


3. Bailing a credit
card thief out of jail

Dee Brown, a Memphis health care aide,
comes from a close-knit family, so when her half-sister was arrested for
stealing credit cards and making over $20,000 in fraudulent charges, Brown didn’t
hesitate to help. She rallied loved ones to post bail and spring her sister
from jail. Unfortunately, they were only able to come up with a fraction of the
required $2,000. “I put $1,500 on my card to get her out,” says Brown. “I didn’t
expect my sister to pay me back because she didn’t have a job or anything, but
everybody else said they would give me something. After a couple months, I only
got $500 back.” Worse, it didn’t take long before the woman committed yet
another crime. “Three months later, she was caught with a lady’s purse and was
using a lot more cards so she was arrested again,” says Brown. “It was crazy. I
used my credit card, got into debt, and ruined my credit because of her
stealing credit cards!” To date, the sister remains behind bars.


4. Freshening up a Smurf

The last thing a performer wants to do is
repel their audience. This is especially true when entertaining young kids, as
they tend to not hold back with harsh criticism. Jayne Wallace, at the time a Los Angeles communications representative working for Smurf toys, was
touring with an actor who had to wear a giant blue Smurf costume on stage, day after day. When she got
wind that it was generating a strong malodor, thus prompting some seriously bad
reviews from the kids who normally crowd in to hug the fluffy character, she
broke out her credit card. “I charged the dry-cleaning after a kid complained, ‘Smurf
smells!,’” says Wallace. The stink was solved with a swipe of her card and the
show went on.

“It was crazy. I
used my credit card, got into debt, and ruined my credit because of her
stealing credit cards!”



5. A massive stack of
a particular issue of Playboy – from a single store

Until recently, most convenience stores would stock a
hearty array of “men’s” magazines. Regulated to a separate shelf, people would
furtively grab a copy, hoping no one would notice, and buy it without making a
scene. Yet Maggie Rivera, a Miami-based public relations
executive, once had a client who needed about 30 copies of a particular issue –
right away. There was no opportunity to order them privately from the
publisher. Instead, she had to procure them “the immediate and good
old-fashioned way by walking into a 7-11 and requesting them from the sales
clerk.” Although Rivera wishes she could have handled the situation like a
seasoned professional, she says her face burned with embarrassment and
dissolved into a fit of giggles.


6. Bizarre beauty

“I was rapidly approaching my 50th
birthday and was freaking out about getting older,” says Jackie Russo, a New
York City stay-at-home mom. “My marriage was crumbling, and I was just very
depressed. One night I was home watching TV and I had a glass of wine or two,
and saw a commercial for the Rejuvenique
Electric Facial System
. I can’t remember how much it was, maybe $50 or $100. I
called the 800-number and paid for it with my credit card. I actually forgot
all about it until this big box was delivered, and when I opened it I laughed
so hard. It was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever seen! I put it on and I
looked like Jason from ‘Friday the 13th.’” But did it work? “No, not at all!” says
Russo. “And I tried to return it for a refund but it was too late. I think I
still have it somewhere.”


7. Baby birds and bunches of bees

“We recently moved to an 8.5-acre property, and I just had 18 chicks delivered
by mail,” says Meredith Sprayberry, an Atlanta transplant to rural Alabama and
owner of Gypsy Shoals Farm.
“I’ve also already pre-ordered my honey bee swarm for my bee hives that I’m
starting next spring. On April 2, 2018, 3 pounds of live bees will be delivered
to my doorstep. Both purchases were made over the internet on my credit card.” 



8. A “you, too, can be
a millionaire” scheme

If you watched late night
programming in the 1990s, you probably remember Tom Vu,
the flashy character who rose to fame promoting his “get rich in real estate” seminars.
In his infomercials, which were peppered with leggy blonds in speed boats, Vu
promised wild income opportunities. Hang Tran, today a retired San Jose,
California, electrician, was sold. “Tom Vu was a big name in the Vietnamese
community,” says Tran. “Everybody knew he was very smart and a big success.” Wanting
in on the action but with no savings to pay for the workshops and materials,
Tran racked up over $8,000 in credit card charges to cover the costs.
Unsurprisingly, the wealth never materialized. Not long after, Vu was sued by
his former students and investigated for fraud and false advertising. Tran,
however, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Now when you buy something as routine as a plane ticket or
a sweater with your card, consider all the wacky charges other people have made – and what your own outside-the-box purchases may be. Plastic offers the autonomy
to procure everything from the silly to the scary. To ensure good financial
health you’ve got to rein spending in to what your budget can handle, of
course, but every once in a while, when you absolutely must have a few thousand
clown noses, you’ll be immensely grateful for that open credit line.

See related: Saved by plastic, 5 true credit card rescue tales, 6 expenses you should never put on a credit card

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