The average credit card in the US charges a 14.39% daily interest rate. Some credit cards charge rates over 30%. These exorbitant interest rates are legal only because of a 1978 US Supreme court ruling that allowed credit card companies to bypass state anti-usury laws. In Marquette Nat. Bank of Minneapolis v. First of Omaha Service Corp, the Supreme Court ruled that credit card companies can charge anyone in the nation whatever interest rate is allowed within the home state of the credit card company. This ruling kicked off a rush to move credit card operations to states such as South Dakota that have no anti-usury laws.
Credit card companies utilize a number of deceptive tricks to enslave consumers. For example, they often put the minimum monthly payment at 3% while charging interest of over 14%. Or they engage in the practice of Universal Default, "a term used by issuers who look at their cardholder's history with other creditors, scanning credit files for late payments, maxed out accounts, or payments made to any creditor with a bad check and any liens or judgments against the property and then take an adverse action which result in increased fees." In the end, credit card companies are out to make a profit by keeping you in inescapable debt and by feeding your desire for immediate gratification.
This Buy Nothing Day get out of the consumerism debt trap by cutting up your credit cards. And if you live without credit cards, or have recently cut up a card, share your story below!
Micah M. White is a Contributing Editor at Adbusters Magazine and an independent activist. Micah is currently writing a book on the future of activism. He lives in Binghamton, NY with his wife and two cats. www.micahmwhite.com