Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Spring Sports Special Issue 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defense relying on senior leadership with new faces in starting lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball fills holes left by seniors with freshmen for 2017 -

February 23, 2017

The Hart of the Lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defenseman Tyler Weeks makes his way back from ACL injury -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball prepares for a long, busy season in 2017 -

February 23, 2017

How new credit card rules will impact students

A series of new restrictions for credit card companies, which went info effect last week after being passed Congress a year ago, will impact anyone who has a credit card, but it will especially affect college students.

Credit card companies have long used questionable marketing practices in order to get America’s youth to sign up for a credit card. The companies often see young adults as being inexperienced with managing finances and therefore much more likely to misuse credit cards and therefore pay more in penalties.

“In spring of 2008, only 15 percent of freshmen had a zero balance, down dramatically from 69 percent in the fall of 2004. The median debt freshmen carried was $939, nearly triple the $373 in 2004,” according to Sallie Mae’s “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards,” published April 2009.

Generally, credit card companies use methods such as switching payment dates and raising credit limits so that cardholders incur debt.  This extra debt means a number of new fees and increased interest rates, which is how these companies make their money.

With the new legislation kicking in, these practices have been at least regulated, if not banned.  The following restrictions in the “Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act” (Credit CARD Act) passed on March 19, 2009, will directly affect students:

  • New laws will require a co-signer for student applicants under 21, unless they can prove they have a steady source of income.
  • No more freebies: companies are no longer allowed to offer students token gifts such as free pizza or t-shirts, etc. just for applying.
  • Fewer prescreened offers, meaning companies such as Equifax or Experian can not send credit card companies your information in order for them to send out “pre-approved offers.”
  • More transparency about college affinity card programs, meaning that credit card companies will have to disclose their marketing deals with colleges to the Federal Reserve Board.  Schools must also disclose how much they make off these deals.
  • Colleges are urged to limit, or restrict, credit card marketing on their campus.

While these new regulations will limit the credit card companies’ ability to use their old tricks, it certainly does not prevent them from implementing new ones.

“Of the 10 practices that have been outlawed, the credit card companies have already found eight new devices for getting around them,” said Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, in a recent television interview.

Even with all their traps, credit card companies cannot take advantage of consumers if the cardholder borrows responsibly and takes the time to read the fine print on their statements. Just keep one thing in mind: caveat emptor, these companies are after their pound of flesh.

Matt Bouteillier can be reached at mbouteil@student.umass.edu.

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