first card stuff-up stories
“I was influenced to buy 
a bathmat for $100”
Florrie, 30, New York

As told to Alex Holder.

What happened?

Instagram was my enabler, which is ironic as I’m a social media marketing manager - I really should have known better. I bought into every interiors trend going, from a pale pink velveteen sofa to those fiddle leaf plants that were on everyone’s grid a couple of years ago. I even bought that bathmat that all the influencers had, the one with a line drawing of breasts on it.
I felt very insecure and embarrassed that my husband  and I were still renting. It didn’t look like we would ever be able to afford a home of our own, so I guess I thought, ‘well what’s the point in even trying.’ The shame I had around being a renter played out in the items I bought for our apartment – from candle sticks to glass domes that housed succulents - I wanted to prove, to myself and other people, that we were as worthy of a nice place to live as they were – yet all of it I was buying on credit.
There were other things too, an unexpected pregnancy meaning I had to take unpaid leave. We might have lost my salary, but our spending didn’t change, I was still trying to keep up with the Joneses, except the Joneses didn’t live next door, they lived in these perfect dream homes on Instagram.
Our credit cards – we had four in total – were each linked up to my Paypal, meaning I would spend as I breastfed at 4 in the morning. It was so easy, so effortless to just ‘buy now’ that packages would arrive and I’d have already forgotten what I’d ordered.

Things came to a head after a very difficult conversation with the bank. I hadn’t met the minimum payment on one of the cards. They were asking when I could make it, and I had to say, ‘I don’t know. My husband was just paid last week and there is no money left.’ I realized in that moment: enough is enough. I knew I needed to sit down and add up all my debt, something I had never done before. I felt like the protagonist of a 1990s debt consolidation advert, sitting head in hands at my kitchen table.
Including our overdrafts, a store card and 4 credit cards, the debt to talled over $35,000. I’ve found help in the most surprising of places – the debt free community on Instagram. It has almost felt poetic to use Instagram as a way out considering the influence it had over my spending. So far we’re 50% of the way through paying off the cards. I’ve frozen the interest where I can and for malised a repayment plan with each lender. I’ve honestly felt that clearing my debt has made me more of a grown up than becoming a mother did.

And now?

I confessed to a couple of friends. This was difficult to do but I wanted to own my f**k up. Also I had to admit that I just couldn’t afford to go on a group holiday. One of my friends found it very awkward (her face was a picture), she was surprised - I’d put on a good act these last few years. But with another friend, she admitted she was in a similar situation and now we help each other be more frugal and not get too depressed that we can’t have everything we see online. I never would have thought of debt as a bonding experience but it really has been. We send each other articles and Instagram accounts about spending better and clearing debt.

I look at the interiors accounts I used to follow and think: what was so seductive about them? I can see them with new eyes and can spot that most of them only ever post one wall or one corner of their apartment! I look at my old feed and see it’s just pictures of stuff – like who was I trying to be? I’m now private, my feed is mostly my son. I can still spot an Instagram trend, but these days I think ‘urgh, how obvious’ rather than, ‘I need to have it’.

first card stuff-up stories
“I was influenced to buy 
a bathmat for $100”
Florrie, 30, New York

At Petal, we want to do more than facilitate access to credit—once a member is approved for a Petal card, our mission is to help you succeed financially.
But unfortunately, the path to financial prosperity can be long, arduous, and opaque. It is often difficult to answer the simplest questions: What actions should I take today to ensure that my financial life is on track for the future? What do I have to do to upgrade my credit card, or qualify for other financial products that will help me accomplish my goals?

We aim to give our members clarity by guiding you on each step of your journey towards financial success. That’s why we’re excited to introduce “Leap,” a new program that provides tangible steps members can take to make progress towards their financial goals and further benefit from their Petal card.

The first feature we’re launching as part of Leap takes the mystery out of how to qualify for a credit limit increase. Today, mainstream credit card companies make credit limit increases a black box; it’s unclear how to qualify for a limit increase, and whether you’re approved or denied, you have no visibility into how the decision was made.

Now, by taking two simple and concrete steps to demonstrate a commitment to their financial health, Petal 1 members can receive a guaranteed credit limit increase in as few as six months.

  • Step 1: Go on a 6-month payment streak. Pay at least 15% of your monthly statement balance OR your minimum, whichever is greater, for six months in a row. If you miss a payment, you'll have to restart your streak.
  • Step 2: Keep your VantageScore healthy. Don’t let your credit score drop 50 points or more below your initial VantageScore at approval. Increasing your credit score is fine–in fact, it's encouraged.

The new Leap tab in the Petal app makes it simple for Petal 1 members to track their progress over time. If you want to delve further into your payment history or credit score—the two factors that impact your eligibility for this limit increase—you can tap for more detailed information. Leap also suggests other steps you can take to help improve your credit score (for instance, by setting up AutoPay to ensure you never miss a payment).

Leap is designed to make building your credit more rewarding. It’s built just for you, offering practical steps on how you can take action to build your personal credit score. That sets Leap apart from other credit education tools that offer generic information on “factors that impact your score” but don’t offer clear guidance tailored specifically to your financial life.

Leap is yet another example of Petal card features, programs, and promotions explicitly created to help members make healthier financial decisions:
At Petal, we encourage our members to pay their balance in full. This differentiates Petal cards from mainstream credit cards, which put you on a more expensive path by making “pay the minimum” the starting point. It’s a subtle distinction intended to help Petal members pay less in interest and pay down their debt more quickly.

If you can’t pay in full, Petal’s payments calculator makes it easy to understand exactly how much interest you’ll owe –in actual dollars and cents– based on the amount of your balance you can pay. This Petal tool offers this information upfront–before you make a payment– so you can make a more informed decision about how much to pay.

A unique rewards program for Petal 2 rewards users with extra cash back when they establish a history of paying their balance on time. Petal 2 members automatically earn 1% cash back on all purchases. But by paying on time –one of the key components of building a good credit score– customers can earn up to 1.5% cash back within a year.

Petal’s recent “Pay more than the minimum” promotion was designed to help members avoid one of the most expensive habits: paying only the minimum on their monthly statement. Members had a chance to win $500 while also saving money, paying down their debt faster, and building their credit score.

It doesn’t stop there–we have big plans to expand Leap in the coming months. Our team is hard at work building the next generation of features to drive our members’ financial success. We can’t wait to show you more as Leap takes shape.