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Credit Cards in College

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In 1998, credit card companies are expected to mail over 3 billion credit card solicitations to consumers. These have been pre-approved pitches promise a dream of low-cost credit, even though most consumers who take the bait, and then manage to qualify, are switched to higher-cost cards within 3 months after the teaser rate expires.

 But the direct mail avalanche, even at levels guaranteed to destroy entire forests, isn't enough to reach one of this extremely profitable industry's key targets: college students. Despite their lack of existing credit (and their lack of income, generally a key criterion for other potential customers) the industry, attracting by their lifetime profit potential, wants college students.

 Direct marketing doesn't work because college students don't have much credit built up already, which means they don't have credit reports. The industry uses consumer credit reports to derive the pre-screened ("you've been pre-approved") mail and phone call lists that it generally relies on to recruit new customers.

 So, instead of cutting down trees and burning up the phone lines to reach college students, the credit card industry goes hunting right on campus. At tables outside the bookstores and student centers, alongside the student volunteers recruiting new members or raising money for charity, paid credit card company representatives eagerly make their "buy now, pay later" pitches while they hand out small bags of junk and freebies, candy and soda (2-liter bottles!) to students, hoping to entice them to fill out credit card applications.

 College administrators are concerned. Some colleges have banned the practice. Others have ratcheted up credit education programs. Student credit card debt is increasing and the students who cannot pay end up in the credit card trap.

 In the spring of 1998, PIRG student volunteers surveyed 1260 students at 15 representative campuses around the country to obtain information about student credit card practices. This report summarizes the results of that study.

 

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College Credit Cards can get a student in a lot of Trouble.  College Students are not ready for Credit Cards

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