Blackspot

Credit Card Usury

This Buy Nothing Day cut up your credit cards.

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

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44 comments on the article “Credit Card Usury”

Displaying 31 - 40 of 44

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Dwain

I just sent e-mail to both Senators from California where I live, State Representative, Speaker of the House Pelosi, Senator Dodd, and both ranking members of the Senate Finance Committe and two local papers. Maybe they'll respond maybe they won't - but at least now I've voiced my concerns.

Dwain

I just sent e-mail to both Senators from California where I live, State Representative, Speaker of the House Pelosi, Senator Dodd, and both ranking members of the Senate Finance Committe and two local papers. Maybe they'll respond maybe they won't - but at least now I've voiced my concerns.

Anonymous

I turned 18 a few months ago and since then I've been bombarded with credit card offers. Sometimes I get a little itch for money, but I still haven't accepted any of the offers that are piling up. Actually, I'm faring quite well. I don't like the crowds in malls, so I don't shop. I bought some good wardrobe staples that I know will last a long time, to avoid the everchanging clothing trends. I keep groceries at a minimum because I started a vegetable patch in my yard, I buy dairy, meat, and fruit from a local Mennonite. I use public transit. And currently, I have 0 debt. So life without a credit card is pretty damn nice.

Anonymous

I turned 18 a few months ago and since then I've been bombarded with credit card offers. Sometimes I get a little itch for money, but I still haven't accepted any of the offers that are piling up. Actually, I'm faring quite well. I don't like the crowds in malls, so I don't shop. I bought some good wardrobe staples that I know will last a long time, to avoid the everchanging clothing trends. I keep groceries at a minimum because I started a vegetable patch in my yard, I buy dairy, meat, and fruit from a local Mennonite. I use public transit. And currently, I have 0 debt. So life without a credit card is pretty damn nice.

Anonymous

STICK WITH IT, WHAT EVER YOU DO, STICK WITH IT. -dn p.s. I am quite envious, I wish I never got any, all the things I purchased with it, probably useless to me now, I was just being stupid, I never even travelled with the damned thing.

Anonymous

STICK WITH IT, WHAT EVER YOU DO, STICK WITH IT. -dn p.s. I am quite envious, I wish I never got any, all the things I purchased with it, probably useless to me now, I was just being stupid, I never even travelled with the damned thing.

Anonymous

Fed Ok's credit card crackdown: It's about time ... http://money.cnn.com/2008/12/18/pf/credit_card_rules/index.htm?postversion=2008121815

Anonymous

Fed Ok's credit card crackdown: It's about time ... http://money.cnn.com/2008/12/18/pf/credit_card_rules/index.htm?postversion=2008121815

Anonymous

I used credit cards to build up my credit and as a back up for emergency expenses while traveling. But when the economy started falling, I fell with it and began using my credit cards to pay for groceries--all the while telling myself "this is temporary...things'll get better." Of course, they didn't. I've been struggling since 9-11. I've now stopped using credit cards completely. I was paying money toward those credit cards every month for over two years only to discover that the amount I owed hadn't changed at all as I was just covering the cost of the exhorbitant fees accruing each month! Then when I found myself unemployed then consistently underemployed (i.e., working but not earning enough to pay my bills) as I've been for the past 8 years, I realized I wasn't ever going to be able to pay those darn things off because they just kept adding too many fees onto the balance. It's not just credit cards though. This is true of almost any bill these days. These big bankers and corporations are pretty ruthless too. They won't accept partial payments or lower monthly payments. You pay it all now...OR ELSE... Yet they are the same people who just got a billion dollar bailout. Gotta love it, right? Some of us are poor, just a paycheck away from being homeless and we are told PAY NOW OR ELSE!!! But those billionaires are given a bailout because they can't live the way we do. They have to maintain their luxury lifestyles. All the while the average American (who is also poor) will tell you that it's your fault you're in debt and that you should just "pay your bills." Seems no one is telling that to the billionaire bankers or CEOs. BTW, I can't rent a car or even a DVD or video now because I don't use a credit card. I wish Americans would wake up, stop using credit cards and just tell those car rental and video rental places, "I'm not shopping in your store until you change your policy." If enough of us did that, they would. They can't survive unless we buy their crap. So why do Americans keep buying?

Anonymous

I used credit cards to build up my credit and as a back up for emergency expenses while traveling. But when the economy started falling, I fell with it and began using my credit cards to pay for groceries--all the while telling myself "this is temporary...things'll get better." Of course, they didn't. I've been struggling since 9-11. I've now stopped using credit cards completely. I was paying money toward those credit cards every month for over two years only to discover that the amount I owed hadn't changed at all as I was just covering the cost of the exhorbitant fees accruing each month! Then when I found myself unemployed then consistently underemployed (i.e., working but not earning enough to pay my bills) as I've been for the past 8 years, I realized I wasn't ever going to be able to pay those darn things off because they just kept adding too many fees onto the balance. It's not just credit cards though. This is true of almost any bill these days. These big bankers and corporations are pretty ruthless too. They won't accept partial payments or lower monthly payments. You pay it all now...OR ELSE... Yet they are the same people who just got a billion dollar bailout. Gotta love it, right? Some of us are poor, just a paycheck away from being homeless and we are told PAY NOW OR ELSE!!! But those billionaires are given a bailout because they can't live the way we do. They have to maintain their luxury lifestyles. All the while the average American (who is also poor) will tell you that it's your fault you're in debt and that you should just "pay your bills." Seems no one is telling that to the billionaire bankers or CEOs. BTW, I can't rent a car or even a DVD or video now because I don't use a credit card. I wish Americans would wake up, stop using credit cards and just tell those car rental and video rental places, "I'm not shopping in your store until you change your policy." If enough of us did that, they would. They can't survive unless we buy their crap. So why do Americans keep buying?

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