I remember getting my first credit card. I had just been laid off from my job when it arrived. When I called my mom to tell her the good news, her response was "They gave a credit card to someone who is unemployed?"
My reply: "Is this a great country or WHAT?!!!"
To be fair, the credit card company approved my application while I still had a job, and I was actually working, having signed up at a temp agency right after receiving my pink slip. And although I immediately went shopping to "break in" the new plastic, I've always paid my credit card bills in full every month.
Unfortunately, this hasn't been the case for many people who have applied for and gotten credit cards. On the one hand you have credit card companies doing worse than giving credit to an unemployed twenty-something shopaholic: in one case, they issued a credit card to Stephen Colbert's credit card. On the other hand, you have consumers who have misused this easily accessible credit and racked up huge amounts of credit card debt.
But even the more responsible credit card user has encountered some serious nickel and diming at the hands of credit card companies. From exorbitant revolving interest rates to late fees, over limit fees, foreign transaction fees, cash advance fees, etc., the credit card companies have been cashing in on consumer cash flow issues. The recent credit card reform bill seeks to change that.
Their ability to collect on credit balances diminished, the companies threatened to start charging fees to people like me who pay off their balances each month. This news led to a "righteous firestorm of consumer rage" over at the Consumerist.
While the new bill doesn't resolve all necessary credit reform issues as reported at the Wall Street Journal's Wallet blog, one casualty of the law will be those ubiquitous FreeCreditReport.com ads (FYI: The only place to get a truly FREE credit report is at AnnualCreditReport.com).
We don't know what this means for the star of the FreeCreditReport.com ads, Eric Violette, but we suspect he'll land on his feet.