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New credit card legislation treats 18-20 year olds like kids

One of the provisions in the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act, which took effect a week ago, prohibits card companies from issuing plastic to people younger than 21, unless the potential customer can either prove a means to repay the credit or find someone 21 or older to co-sign for the card and take responsibility for the debt.

But, some say, if you’re old enough to fight and die for your country, shouldn’t you be old enough to buy more than you can pay for? Or, better yet, learn to use a credit card responsibly?

It’s the same argument used by proponents of lowering the drinking age and, incidentally, the argument used by some University of Vermont students who shrugged at the Credit CARD Act’s protection of quasi-adults.

“It’s kind of interfering with their independence,” said Josh Bennett, a 21-year old nutrition major eating a brownie for lunch Thursday in the Davis Center.

The new law, in addition to restricting the sale of credit cards to people younger than 21, also prohibits companies from arbitrarily increasing interest rates, and providing a 45-day notice before raising interest rates or changing certain fees.

“A lot of people I know who had their interest rates increase had no idea,” Bennett said.

However, Bennett said he has had no problems with his credit card. He said he uses the card a few times a month, always makes his payments on time and tries to pay more than the minimum amount due when he can.

“If you’re gonna get a credit card, and you’re under 21, you should definitely read the fine print and ask questions; ask your parents,” Bennett said. “Otherwise, you can get in a lot of debt pretty quick.”

Alice Trainor, a 21-year-old English major, talked to her mom before getting a credit card at the beginning of the school year.

“She told me to let her know if I had any problems,” Trainor said. She said her mom offered to help out, if need be, to keep her daughter from missing payments.

Trainor said she got the card so she could start building credit, to help her one day buy a house.

“I really try to use it only for online purchases,” she said.

The law should treat 18-year-olds adults in a consistent manner, Trainor said, adding she feels 21 is becoming the new 18. But that doesn’t bother her as much as it used to.

“It’s more annoying when you’re 18,” she said.

Ridhdhi Parmar, 18 and undeclared, said although she thought the law unfair, she wouldn’t trust herself with a card.

“I feel like I would probably wait,” Parmar said. “I don’t think I’m responsible enough.”

Parmar and her friend, Jess Holmes, a 19-year-old nursing major, said they’ve watched relatives struggle with credit card debt and are in no hurry to take the risk.

“I’ve seen my parents have that problem, and I didn’t want to get into that,” Holmes said.

Neither Daniel Hunton or Ethan Leveillee, both 21-year-old mechanical engineering majors, carry cards.

“I never felt like I needed that much of an extension” to pay for something, Hunton said. “My debit card has always worked.”

“I’ve thought about getting one to build my credit, but I haven’t gotten around to doing that yet,” Leveillee said.

Hunton and Leveillee also say 18-year-olds should have the opportunity to use credit cards if they choose.

“Many kids don’t have the support of a family, so they should have their independence,” Hunton said.

“Twenty-one, at least for me, is too old,” Leveillee said.

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Posted in: News by SoulRiser on March 20, 2010 @ 7:07 PM

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