The following contribution explores the debt and credit economy developed in William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (1848). Thackeray’s novel offers a satirical panorama of a society obsessed with wealth and status. Seeing through the vanities of others, the protagonist Rebecca Sharp appropriates and subversively performs their social and economic system. It is thanks to her smart social performance that she gains both social and financial credit – without ever repaying her debts. The credulousness of her creditors can be read as an effect of what Jochen Hörisch (2004) calls the “autopoiesis” of money, that is the idea that money is covered by the belief in money. Rebecca can be seen to embody this monetary autopoiesis since she succeeds in making her creditors (falsely) believe that she actually possesses sufficient assets to secure her debts. Thackeray’s text uses the figure of the equally sharp and dazzling social climber in order to expose a snobbish society that is duped by her self-fashioning because of its very own obsession with money and status and is thus made to pay for its vanities. Rebecca, on the other hand, not only remains unrepentant but – unusual for a female literary character of the period – gets away unpunished.