Expert Q&A

Lay down your cards, Zane Curry


Athlete-turned-entrepreneur Zane Curry describes which credit cards he keeps in his wallet.

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Zane Curry is the picture of a rugged sports player — tall, lean, with sandy-blond hair, a vibrant personality and a five o’clock shadow. Curry, 30, played baseball for the Dodgers in 1999 then went on to become a baseball coach at Rice University, his alma mater. Recently, he gave up professional sports to become an Internet entrepreneur. But with this new venture, sports are still his livelihood.

Zane CurryThis summer, Curry will officially launch Active Life Network, a community website for people who share active and outdoor interests. “To start, it’ll primarily be a directory of professionals, events and facilities where people can find and recommend experts in their area of interest,” Curry says. “And it will grow to feature social networking, photo and video sharing and other sports-related content.” Though he’s now a businessman, Curry still engages in sports like golf, mountain biking, snowboarding, tennis, fishing and wake boarding.

With his background, Curry seems a natural to lead a sports-focused business. The hard part was financing. He took a methodical approach, working up to quitting his coaching job: “I’d recommend you make sure you have most of your money before starting your business,” he says. “Or keep your day job.” Though he found investors in his hometown of Houston, he still funded 20 percent to 25 percent of his initial costs with cards, starting in 2005. “Credit cards were an important part of my startup,” he said. “They were an integral part of the plan, as they gave me some breathing room financially.”

Below, the lowdown on the three cards in his wallet, each of which he used when starting his business.

Type of card: Visa
Issuer: First Equity
Year obtained: 2005
Business or personal: Business
Interest rates over its life: 15–25 percent
Fees: No annual fee
Credit limit: Increased from an initial line of $2,000 to $6,000
Perks (miles, rewards, etc.): None

Customer service: “Very limited. It seems as if they are as much of a startup as we are.” He once overheard a customer-service agent answering phones for Maytag.
Current usage: Carries a balance of about half the card limit. “I’ll pay this off as revenues begin to offset costs. I will definitely continue to use the card, but I’m uncertain how long this will last. If rates stay as high as they currently are, I’ll most likely look for other options.”
The bottom line: “The thing I have appreciated most about this card is the fact that they have automatically processed credit-limit increases.”

Type of card: Visa
Issuer: Capital One
Year obtained: 2005
Business or personal: Business
Interest rates over its life: 12 percent – 21 percent
No annual fee
Credit limit: $600. No credit limit increase, despite repeated requests, even with excellent credit.
Perks: 60-day grace period; points for travel or business equipment
Customer service: “Fantastic, except for the credit-limit increase problem.” Always available and very informative.
Current usage: Minimal
The bottom line: “I probably will not continue to use the card, because the credit limit is too low to make it very useful. It has not been easy to use, which is a shame because other than a ridiculously low credit limit, the card’s great.”

Type of card: MasterCard

Issuer: Chase (Continental)
Year obtained: 2000
Business or personal: Personal
Interest rates over its life: 9 percent – 30 percent
Fees: No annual fee
Credit limit: Has seen a $4,000 limit increase over the life of the card
Perks: Airline miles
Customer service: Adequate
Current usage: As earning power increases, the card will be paid off, “but right now I’m putting every penny I can afford back into the business.” The card has been paid off twice before.
The bottom line: “I’ll continue to use it and plan on upgrading to their Presidential Plus credit card.”

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