WISCONSINREPORT.COM (04/07/2009) - Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) joined U.S. Senator Herb Kohl and UW Chancellor Biddy Martin to talk to UW-Madison students on campus about student credit card issues. The event was hosted by the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG), which is part of the U.S.PIRG federation. 76 percent of undergrads have credit cards and, on average, leave school with 22-hundred dollars in credit card debt.
"As students are inundated with credit card offers on campus, it is important to highlight the pitfalls and provide students with information that allow them to make smart financial decisions," Representative Gordon Hintz said.
Credit card offers are frequently tailored to appeal to a student by offering food or commodities such as a t-shirt or water bottle. A student may be enticed to sign up for a credit card without fully understanding the details in the fine print. Once a student has a card they can incur up significant debt that will follow them many years in the future.
“I hear about difficult situations individual students have gotten themselves into by racking up credit card debt”, said Hintz. “This is compounded by the fact that the average college graduate has nearly $20,000 in debt. I applaud Senator Kohl for his work on behalf of students and credit card debt and am pleased to join him today to help educate students”.
Senator Kohl recently included an amendment to the Credit Card Accountability and Disclosure Act of 2009 that passed the Senate Banking Committee. This amendment would require the co-signer of a credit card to approve any credit limit increase if the primary credit card holder is under the age of 21. This would prevent a student’s credit line from being automatically increased to levels that are beyond their ability to repay.
“Credit cards are not inherently bad or evil items”, said Hintz. “But we as legislators on the state and national level must recognize that consumers must be informed of the contractual obligations they are signing up for and provided with tools to use them responsibly.”
Credit Card Tips for Students:
- Shop around and look for the best offer around.
- Always read the fine print if applying for a credit card.
- One national credit card is all you need to build a credit record, if you pay it off on time.
- You can build a credit record without carrying an unpaid balance.
- If you must carry a balance, always pay as much as you can afford, every month. If you pay just the minimum payment you will have trouble paying your credit card down and will pay much more in interest fees long-term
- Reduce the number of direct mail credit card solicitations you receive by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT. This will remove your name from pre-screening lists at the three major credit bureaus.
U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for the health and well-being of people.
With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, USPIRG and state PIRGs like WISPIRG take on the special interests on issues, such as product safety,political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights,where these interests stand in the way of reform and progress.