THE BLOG

Plastic Perils: Credit CARD Act Not Enough

04/27/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

By: Jennifer Obakhume

As a college student, I am very familiar with the membership drives credit card companies lead on a college campuses.

You can imagine the tantalizing offers -- free cell phones, free gift cards, and even free money. I guess having a mother that worked in the banking industry contributed to my rather cold feeling about credit cards.

"Jennifer, don't spend money that you don't have! This is the best advice I can give you," one of my relatives told me years ago. I took that lesson to heart. I refuse to get a credit card.

Truth is I know I need to improve my money habits. Sure it's great to have some plastic in case of an emergency. But I always hear about the non-emergency situations. I think we all have known people who buy $200 outfits or shoes, and make excuses for why they just had to have it.

I'm not excessive about clothes, but I might be tempted to buy up an electronics store in a heartbeat. I can be an impulsive buyer, and impulsive buying on a credit card just isn't worth it.

Life without a credit card has been just fine for me. But I've been plagued by credit card company mailings that claim I am eligible for a pre-approved card. I just rip the envelopes up. Those interest rates and other hidden charges are not exactly inviting. In fact, I can count the number of my friends who have credit cards. Many of them don't make enough to pay off their college bills. They are terrified of even buying things they actually need because they are afraid of the possible charges.

Last year, President Obama signed the Credit CARD Act of 2009 into law. The law, effective this week, will now change the credit playing field considerably. Here's a brief rundown of new regulations to help college students.

-Prohibits students under the age of 21 to get a credit card with having a co-signer and/or proof of reasonable income.

-Prohibits credit card companies from mailing pre-screened offers to people under the age of 21, unless the person chooses to opt in.

I'm sure this new law will help college students avoid debt. One thing, I know for sure, these new laws still are NOT inspiring me to get a credit card. I think I'll be keeping my debit card in hand for a little while longer.

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