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Getting your first Credit Card

I remember turning 18 and being so excited to get my first credit card. I was still a senior in high school, so I went to my favorite department store and applied for my very first credit card. To my surprise, I was approved right away! It seemed all too easy. Shouldn’t getting a credit card be a little more difficult to get?

When I got that credit card, I was so excited to purchase a Coach wallet (my first very own big purchase) and vowed to not use the card again until it was paid off. Of course, I fell into the same trap as many other 18-year-olds and did not stop there. I wanted another credit card and went to my second favorite store and filled out another credit card application.

When I arrived at college that fall, I was shocked to see credit card company after credit company with booths set up on campus. They offered ridiculous free items to get students to sign up, and, guess what, it worked! The booths were always busy with students filling out credit card applications. I don’t know what kept me from filling out one of those applications (maybe it was that I already had one or that it had been drilled into me by my family never to purchase what you cannot afford) I never did and am so thankful today I did not.

Today, as a bankruptcy attorney, I now see many of those “students” needing to file bankruptcy, because they racked very high credit card bills on those credit cards before they had the experience or knowledge to understand the repercussions of using a credit card. They were young, excited to be away from home, and just wanted to have a good time.

Well that all changed with the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, better known as the Credit CARD Act of 2009. The Credit CARD Act put restrictions on how credit card companies can advertise to consumers who are under 21 years of age. Specifically, credit card companies cannot mail advertisements to persons under 21 unless they “opt in” for such mailings. Credit card companies also can no longer use free gifts to get college students to apply for a credit card. Finally, if you are under 21, you will need to have a co-signer or prove you have your own independent source of income.

For some, this is a very good thing. For others, it could be a burden. It can be burdensome on those 18-year-olds who are ready to have a credit card and understand the significance of having one. It is also burdensome for parents who choose to become a co-signer for their child. If their child abuses the credit card, they run the risk of the child ruining their credit along with their own. Regardless, the Credit Card Act of 2009 is doing a lot of good in preventing many young people from ruining their credit before they even get the chance to build good credit.

If you have found yourself in this sort of situation, it is never too late to do something about it. By filing bankruptcy, you can discharge all of your credit card debt and get a fresh start at building a strong credit report. Contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC for more information.


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