Posted by: Stefanie Marty
Moises Mari, a 24-year-old senior at Rutgers University, got his first credit card at 16 by lying about his age on the application. “None of my friends had one, and I wanted to be the first,” he says. “I was surprised how easy it was to get through the system. I was issued one within a few days.”
The era of “No Student Left Behind: Credit Card Edition” will come to an end early next year, thanks to the new credit card law. (Starting in February, the law restricts students under 21 from signing up for their own cards.) But, in the meantime, college kids now arriving on campus may see issuers making one last-ditch plastic pitch through offers of free pizza, iPods, or T-shirts. “These are very large businesses, and they can’t sit back and do nothing or their businesses will shrink too much,” notes David Robertson of the Nilson Report, a credit card analyst. So a little friendly parental advice from you couldn’t be timelier.
College students are just as hooked on plastic as their parents. Some 84 percent of college students have credit cards — more than half have four or more — and the average balance is $3,173, according to a survey by student lender Sallie Mae. (That’s on top of the $19,999 median loan debt for undergrads.) Many students seem unable to rein in their card use. More than three-quarters carry a monthly balance, and 60 percent in the survey said they were surprised how high their balances had reached. They are, in short, a card issuer’s dream: young, plastic-addicted, and willing to carry a balance into eternity.
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