When it comes to debt, credit card companies believe that you're never too young to start accruing it. This is why many of them hand out lines of credit like candy to students, whether they are in high school or college. Two out of three high school students in the United States have credit cards, and have some form of debt, thanks to reckless spending. Start early, spend often, and pay the bank every month, that's the name of the game for many credit card companies.
College Students in Credit Card Debt
However, thanks to the new credit card legislation just recently signed by the president (May 22, 2009), the days of students getting into debt well before they're legally able to earn the money to begin paying it off is over. Or, at the very least, on notice. For students who already have their cards, the legislation will ease the burden the card conveys in return for being able to buy stuff.
Late Fees and Interest Spikes
As well as legislation relating to interest fee spikes and late payments (the bane of any credit card owner, no matter their age), there was a clause dealing specifically with student card owners. In short, the clause makes it harder for anyone under the age of twenty-one to get a card. No one under the age of twenty-one can have a credit card unless a parent, legal guardian or spouse is the primary cardholder. Also, the credit limit on such a card cannot be increased without the written permission of said primary cardholder. The only exception to either of these is in the case of a student with proof of their own income.
Before the Law Passed
Before this legislation passed, a student under the age of twenty-one could get their own card without permission, which, of course, invariably led to reckless spending and the growth of debt, especially in the case of freshman college students. Now, a parent or legal guardian can check such before it occurs and keep their student out of trouble. At least until they have some method of paying off their own debts. This should ease the dangers of credit card debt.
Keeping credit cards out of the hands of students may seem unfair at first glance, but really, how fair is it to inflict what can rapidly become crippling debt on a student, especially if they have no way pay off credit card debt. In many ways, this is the modern upgrade to the weekly allowance. Credit cards are a way for students to exercise financial independence, but it often results in unpleasant consequences. Now, thanks to the new legislation, parents and legal guardians have a way of curtailing that financial independence without cutting students off from the potential lessons and character building moments entirely.