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10/9/07

Credit trap: Keeping Young Adults on the Right Track with Credit Cards

I will never forget the time I got my first credit card. I signed up on my college campus. It was great because I got a university t-shirt when I applied for the card. The people working the kiosk basically guaranteed that I would be approved. I was sold! I took the application, filled in my details, and impatiently waited for my shiny new card to arrive in the mail.

It is funny when I think back about how young and naïve I was. I did not care about annual fees, interest rates, or credit limits. If I would have known then what I know now, I would have set a booth right next to that credit card kiosk and passed out fliers about how bad the credit card offers are on university campuses.

There is a popular military strategy called “shock and awe.” Basically, a military will use overwhelming force and spectacular displays of power to paralyze the enemies on the battlefield and destroy their will to fight. The same strategy is used by these university credit kiosks. They promise young and financially naïve adults all these great benefits, but fail to inform about high annual fees and interest rates. Eventually, the college kid finds himself/herself in a debt trap from which he/she cannot escape.

My advice is to do your homework. Make sure that the credit card offer is not all smoke and mirrors. Ask about the annual fee and interest rates. If the person working the kiosk does not know the answers, do NOT get the card. There are too many places where a credit card can be obtained, therefore, you do not have settle for the sub par cards that they hand out on college campuses.


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