Answer Man: 2009 law curbs credit predators

October 3, 2018

Editor’s note: Enjoy this Classic Answer Man column from Sept. 9. 2011.

Dear Answer Man, my oldest child just started his first year of college. College seems to be notorious ground to get hounded by credit card offers. I think there were a number of credit card changes within the last year or two. Was the minimum age to own a credit card raised as part of those changes? If so, what is the new minimum age? — T.O.

The Credit CARD Act of 2009, which touched up the Truth in Lending Act, made it tougher for credit card companies to snooker students into opening accounts, but it’s hardly iron-clad. Banks and card companies are prohibited from issuing cards to people younger than 21 unless they have a parent, adult guardian or spouse as a co-signer or can prove a minimum income standard, which leaves a fair amount of wiggle room for mischief.

Sales agents for the companies also have to stay away from campuses if they’re offering free gifts or other goodies to get students to sign up.

The new law has other consumer protections that are more substantial. As an online credit information site says, “The law has fundamentally changed the way credit card issuers market, bill and advertise credit cards.” The New York Times reported that as a result of the new law, card companies may be less inclined to offer discounts and inducements to responsible card users, but also noted that “card companies want to make money, and big spenders help them do it, even if those cardholders do not go into debt.”

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