Credit card companies and their targeting of college students.
Should credit card companies really be targeting anybody? The fact of the matter regarding credit cards is that there was once a time where people paid everything up front or at least in payments with their own money. Once credit cards came into existence people in need of money or looking for quick access to what they wanted when they wanted it became quickly lured in by offers of ‘free’ money, rewards, and the ability to pay now for things they couldn’t actually afford. Looking at the profits of credit card companies, it is obvious that many, many people were lured in to the system of credit cards and many of those individuals are in debt and have a damaged financial history because of impulsive usage of their plastic.
Of course not all people are eligible for credit cards, leaving a good chunk of the truly poor and destitute who need money out of the credit card companies’ grasp. After all there are some people who couldn’t get a credit card if they tried. But, what is this exploding population known a college students? People who aren’t generally actually poor, but choose to be poor by pursuing college and living the poor college student life. They are young, need to establish credit, and tend to have no spending money but a huge appetite for spending.
These are people who rush to a free event on campus for a free meal and a free t-shirt, surely to spend 5 minutes filling out paperwork to get these things AND a 1,000 dollar spending limit on credit will have these people swarming to be next in line.
Not long after the discovery of the college student, college campuses became flooded with credit card companies hawking nothing but free t-shirts, free food, and occasionally free pens and hats. Students asked what they had to do for these highly desired items and were told to simply fill out a form. In the early days of this we used fake names and fake information, after all by the time the company checked the information, we were already eating our free meal and wearing our free shirt.
Soon after companies caught on and now can check on the spot if you are who you say you are; wrong info equals no freebies. But this didn’t stop us college kids, we just filled more forms out for more free stuff, most clueless that each form was an inquiry into our credit and thus could hurt our credit.
No problems here though, because we became amazed at how easily credit could be obtained. Within weeks we could be proud owners of plastic that in one swipe filled our parties with beer, our wardrobe with clothes, our cars with gas, and the bar with drinks. Books? No problem just charge it. Food? Same deal. Before anyone realized how bad this really way, entire tuitions began getting put on the plastic.
And the credit card companies had struck gold. A group of the population that by choice had little money, needed credit to be established, tended to be irresponsible and impulsive, and was willing to give over every piece of information about them for a free t-shirt or meal. Throw in 0% for the first year and before they knew it, credit card companies were rolling in money from interest rates the following year because this foolish population of people only paid the minimum balance each month.
All this makes one wonder if credit card companies should be targeting college students. Obviously the answer is no. Combine the general impulsiveness and new independence of many college students with the stresses of school and having no money and you have someone who is desperate for quick cash and will spend it as soon as it is available. Credit card companies aren’t stupid, they saw the early success of the first companies to invade campus and now all of them want a piece of the pie. Their latest tricks involve offering low introduction rates on transferring balances so these students can pay off one card with another card.
They even promote cards that allude to great college geared rewards when in reality like real credit cards in the real world is that the rewards are rarely worth all the money spent on plastic.
Credit card companies are the leeches of our mainstream society and they are just sucking whatever they can out of whoever they can. They know that most college kids today can hardly write a check properly let alone responsibly handle a credit card. No money, newfound freedom, and the promise of quick cash all add up to lots of profits for the credit card companies and lots of debt for the college student.
Many colleges are fighting back by banning these companies from being on campus yet shockingly some campuses have actually introduced school sponsored credit cards and even events sponsored on campus by these companies. Credit card companies should be banned outright from college campuses and colleges should consider making basic personal finance courses a requirement of the school. I didn’t get my first credit card until I was 23 and I am glad I did.
Even now, like back in college I pay most of my bills and expenses up front and the only debt I allow myself to have is student loan debt which I see as a true investment. Lets keep credit card companies off campus and prevent financial disaster for many of these students.