Back when we used to live in India, credit cards were not a big thing.
But in the U.S., credit cards are hard to live without.
Of the three things that are almost impossible to live without in the U.S., credit card is perhaps the most required one (the other two are car and microwave).
Most people in the U.S. establish a credit history only through credit cards and over time accumulate big debts providing a golden opportunity for bailed-out, scam-artist swines like Citigroup to rip off consumers through usurious practices.
The White House recently passed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 and a lot of unsavory details came out:
* Americans pay $15 billion in penalty fees every year
* 80% of Americans have a credit card
* 44% of Americans carry a balance on their credit cards
* Interest rate hikes are applied retroactively to old balances
* Credit card companies mail statements just 14 days before payment is due
* Credit card companies suddenly change the terms and conditions
* Contracts are drafted not to inform, but to confuse (Obama’s words)
* One in five Americans carry a balance that has been charged interest rates above 20%. Yes, above 20%
* Credit card companies force consumers to pay down debt with the lowest interest rate first
* Default on payment to one credit card company leads to interest rate hike from other credit card companies even if the consumer has been prompt in paying the other credit card company
* Credit card companies change payment due dates abruptly
There must be a special place reserved in hell for the Shylocks running America’s credit card companies.
President Obama signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 on Friday.
That’s a good first step.