The New York Times is doing a series called “Debt Trap – A series about the surge in consumer debt and the lenders who made it possible.” On New Year’s Day, they did an article that rings so very true to me. If you recall, my credit card debt started with a candy bar offered on college campus.
Since I started blogging, I have come to realize that whenever you get a credit card through another avenue than the credit card company itself, someone is making money from selling that card to you. The same rings true for web sites and blogs that have links to credit cards. It can be a profitable business – the one time I looked at it, some companies were paying up to $50 for every person that signed up for a card.
Thinking back to the displays at my old college, there were always college students manning the booths. I figured that student organizations were the ones behind the applications. But according to the New York Times articles, the colleges themselves can get a very lucrative deal. In some cases, it pays for the college to have a student go into debt and have a balance on their card at all times. Another scenario is that that college receives a percentage of every charge a student makes. Makes my stomach do a little flip – they sure got me!
The contract [for Michigan State University] calls for a $1 royalty to the university for every new card account that remains open for at least 90 days, $3 for every card whose holder pays an annual fee, and a payment of a half percent of the amount of all retail purchases using the cards.
So…some colleges are not only allowing the credit card booths on campuses – they are encouraging them! They get a lot of money by doing so. The colleges mentioned in the article say that the revenue is important and sometimes used for scholarships. It doesn’t make much sense to me. And selling student information so credit card companies can market to them? Ugh. I get those alumni credit card offers. I guess my alma mater got a deal as well to sell my information.
I don’t mind colleges making money. But it seems like there could be a better way than targeting young adults with credit card offers. It’s like raiding the young adult cradle.
If interested, here is the link to the entire Debt Trap series at the New York Times.