How to Credit Card

Three Credit Cards
Photo by Petr Kratochvil

If credit were as simple as cash, we wouldn’t need cash anymore.  Credit cards are very complicated sometimes, yet the fundamental financial skills needed to use them are not taught in schools or colleges.  Here are my secrets to success in managing credit accounts.

#1  Always have at least two credit accounts

This is the number one, most important lesson.  Credit cards help to establish your history of responsible borrowing, whether or not you use them at all.  For pilots especially, it’s a good idea just to have a credit card in the airplane in case of unexpected expenses while traveling.  And believe me, a credit card can stop working at any time for a wide variety of reasons.  Two “reliable” credit accounts is my bare minimum.  If one credit card is restricted to specific stores or small spending limits, then I need to have three cards or more so that I always have a fallback.

#2  Get your rewards

All the best credit cards put something back in your pocket when you spend money.  Rewards might be in the form of billing credits, gift certificates, or free air travel.  If you’re not getting rewards, it’s a bad deal.  Look into it.  Shop for what you like.  Don’t take bad deals.  Don’t open accounts that mention any annual membership fees.  If you are attending a flight school that accepts credit card payments, this will be a matter of hundreds of dollars in rewards!  Do the shopping before it’s too late.

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College Admission & Advising

After deciding which flight school to attend, the next step to becoming a pilot is to get admitted to the school.  At smaller schools, this process may be as simple as signing a couple of forms and making an initial payment.

When I decided to attend EMU, the Office of Admissions there refused to review my application.  Surprise!  If I had given up, or if I had only followed the advice I was given, I would not have been admitted.  This is an example of perseverance being a necessity in flight training.

I hope my story and advice can help inspire future pilots to overcome the little obstacles that arise in training.

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Choosing a Flight School

The first step into flight training is to go flying.  Many flight schools offer a discounted first lesson as a taste of how exciting it is to be in the airplane.  I paid $29 at the local flight school for my intro flight in 2008.  That’s practically free, and it was one of the best investments anyone has ever made in me.  I came back to them in 2010 for several thousands of dollars worth of training to become a private pilot.

During the intro flight, you should expect to fly the airplane yourself.  My instructor and I agreed that after he started the engine, I could take control of the airplane on the taxiway, take off, and fly out about 30 miles and back while the instructor handled the radios.  He demonstrated a climb and an idle descent for me, and landed the airplane.  He also complimented me on navigating and flying straight and level without any help.  This was a great experience, and a big factor in my career plans.

When making an appointment for your first flight, be sure to ask about the school’s dress code and security procedures.

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Do You Want To Be a Pilot?

Dawning sky.
Dawning Sky at the Airport

As graduation approaches, I am reflecting more on the university experience, and noticing that it has been a personal success.  I can also look back on some mistakes, and on the successes of my classmates, and see what worked best for all of us.

I’ve decided to start my articles about university life with a series called the Flight Training Survival Guide.  I found so many ideas to write about that it made sense to break up the guide into individual topics and add them here one at a time.

Some of the advice in this guide is generic, and some of it is specific to Eastern Michigan University (EMU).  I feel this type of advice needs to be neither generic nor specific.  One should consider all information when embarking on the path to becoming a pilot.

Before Your Training Begins …

Are you certain that flying is for you?  It is amazing how many people get this wrong!  Becoming a pilot must be the most important thing that you want to do, more than anything else.  No matter how you go about training and how many resources you start out with, you absolutely must have the unwavering desire, self-motivation, and perseverance to accomplish this goal.

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