The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Being careful with credit cards

Nine credit card offers by mail in the last week, four phone calls, and the countless amounts of junk mail trying to entice college students to apply and become a cardholder. Setting up shop on college campuses across the United States, giving away free water bottles, coffee mugs, footballs and even t-shirts in exchange for a completed application.

These are all methods money-hungry credit card companies use to attract the business of college students.

Who is looking out for the student? College campuses are making million- dollar deals with credit card companies in exchange for students’ mailing addresses and personal information. UW-Madison is one of 1,000 schools that has banned card marketers from its campus, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune. Credit card debt “puts young people behind the eight ball,” Madison’s dean of students said in the article. “It exacerbates the educational loan debt that’s already accumulated.”

Let’s face the simple fact that out of any age range, the credit card companies are targeting college students. The average college student has at least one credit card, and 82 percent of college students have more than one, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The facts do not lie. An average college student’s credit card debt has risen from $1,879 to $2,748 in two years according to the FTC.

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This debt does not even include the debt that will accumulate from student loans for actually getting an education. America’s college students control more money than the national debt of some small countries.

Together, college students spend more than $19 billion a year, according to USA Today.

College students are spending more money than they are earning, and credit card companies are taking advantage of this. So are other businesses. Best Buy offers a credit card with no payments or interest for six months.

These types of offers and deals bring in the students because the big-screen television and the iPod now sound affordable. No interest or payment for six months. I will just save up, right? Wrong – in six months, the bills are coming with high minimum fees and even higher late fees.

Now what? You cannot tell your parents because it will just be a long argument, and most parents will say, pardon the clich‚, “you made the bed; you have to sleep in it too.” Money is the root of all evil, and to really face the truth, no matter how much you have, you will never have enough.

The bottom line is that credit card companies, with the cool cards and unique slogans, are in business for one reason – they attack the vulnerable. My advice to all college students is to be safe, do your research and when picking a company, make sure you are looking at the rates and the service fees. Do not be scammed, and start holding your campus accountable for giving out your personal information.

The golden rule: no matter how many times you swipe it, and no matter how low the minimum balance may be, eventually you will have to pay the entire bill. Be smart and be active when choosing the card that is right for you.

Duckett is a junior print journalism major and a columnist for The Spectator.

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Being careful with credit cards