An unrecognized abuse: True stories of bank credit cards and abuse!
In today's society, abuse organizations abound. Bank credit cards should be on the list, as these handy little bits of plastic that litter our wallets cause so much suffering to families around the world. Let's begin with a little history on the now taken-for-granted bank credit cards. Back in the day think 1960 your Grandma and Mom were delighted to have what was then called a 'charge-a-plate', issued by department stores and some other retailers, which allowed them to snap up that pair of shoes on sale, or buy the kid's school clothes on credit. Back then, most people didn't view these cards as cash on the hoof, but as a temporary line of credit which was paid off each month. As time passed, and retailers saw their sales and bottom line, increase, the 'charge-a-plate' evolved into the 'revolving charge account', which meant that the customer could defer payments, with a little interest added on, to acquire more goods on account, enabling the customer to buy more than they could really afford. The banks took note of this development and soon were issuing credit cards along the same model. Banks started sending credit cards to anyone and everyone no application required with a tantalizing credit limit. Very few recipients were able to resist. "Wow, I can get that washing machine and dryer and just pay it off over time!" The age of bank credit cards was born.
Millions upon millions of Americans plucked these cards from the unsolicited mail and went shopping! They were well aware that everything from a new pair of skis to a dishwasher could be had by simply presenting their card at an accepting retailer. You could be doing your laundry at home and then get on the slopes this weekend! The 'minimum payment' option was certainly attractive to many people who didn't want to have to save for months to realize these luxuries. Wow! This is the life! Bank credit cards became all the rage.
People began to indulge in impulse buying in a way that was new, and pleasing. Some got into trouble when they couldn't meet that minimum payment, or became financially overrun in interest charges. Others began to see that the bank credit cards weren't all they'd initially expected. However, another credit card was available from some other bank. "Ah, I can still live beyond my means1" was the collective sigh of relief.
Fast forward to the 80s, when the U.S. economy hit a bump. Jobs were hard to find and a great many people defaulted. They just couldn't pay. Now people began to sit up and take notice. Their credit report took a serious dive. Now what?
That's about the time banks began issuing bank credit cards only by application and approval, to credit worthy individuals. If you wanted a credit card, you had to clean up your act and not live beyond your means sort of ... banks would give you a credit card, but at an APR suited to your credit rating. The banks had succeeded in popularizing the credit card concept and were now really going to reap the profits.
Today, almost anyone can get a bank credit card. It's almost like a status symbol: how many credit cards do you have in your wallet? How about your credit limit? The banks have remedies for just about any situation, to keep this marketing vehicle profitable. Did you miss a payment, even by a day? Wham. A fine ensues. Over your limit? Your APR goes up overnight and you'll be assessed an eye-opening fine. Remember the line from that old song? 'One day older and you're deeper in debt. And I owe it all to the company store...'. A word to the wise. Bank credit cards aren't something you want to enter into lightly!