In the wake of the financial crisis and with millions of Americans in debt, President Obama signed into law the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act in 2009, affecting the application for use and payment of credit cards for millions of Americans.
The new law is considered by some to enact the most significant changes in the history of the United State’s credit card use.
Besides freezing the due dates of bills to the same day each month and reducing bank fees, the law will severely limit college students’ ability to apply for credit cards, requiring a parent or guardian to co-sign for the account until the age of 21 unless the student can prove that they can pay the credit card bills themselves. The problem is that people in this age group are generally unaware of the changes taking place and distrustful of credit card companies.
Freshman Alison Palmeri has a credit card that she rarely uses, and said she would rather use cash or a debit card so she could more easily track how much she had and how much she could spend.
“I think it’s kind of weird for the age to be 21, you’d think you could get your own card when you’re an adult, but mine’s co-signed anyway, so I don’t know how it really affects me,” Palmeri said.
The provisions for young adults in the bill is meant to encourage responsible credit practices in this age group, but many of the students are already wary of credit cards and have plans for how they will use them.
Freshman Lauren Fraser said she doesn’t have a problem with credit cards as long as they are used responsibly and paid back.
“I’m going to get a credit card and buy really small things that I can pay back easily so that I can get really good credit,” she said, intending to use the credit attained to help her pay for a house in the future.
Adam Burks, another freshman with the same idea, has already begun to build up his credit.
“Don’t buy something you can’t pay back,” he said. “I think it’s really irresponsible to just go crazy and buy things.”
With some students it’s not as easy to get a parent to co-sign a credit card, even if they need one for emergency situations. Fabiana Reyes is a freshman from Nicaragua, and her parents don’t have a bank in the United States.
“I had to open an account by myself,” Reyes said. “Sometimes you need it once you’re 18.” Besides building credit, she thinks they are useful in emergency situations.
“In general I think borrowing on credit is a bad idea,” sophomore Nikki Sherretts said. She doesn’t have a credit card and doesn’t intend to get one. “The whole reason we get into messes like the Great Depression and the recession we’re in now is because of borrowing on credit.”