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Regulations on Credit Card Advertisements Are Needed to Help Eliminate Debt

May 26, 2008
We have all seen credit card advertisements on television, radio, magazines, etc. These ads always show ordinary people, living an extraordinary life. Just like we all want to do.

The message is clear, just use our powerful plastic card, and you can have it all, and have it now. Forget what you can really afford, just live the good life.

I saw a credit card commercial on television this past weekend that really started me thinking about the message they are broadcasting to America. The wrong message in my opinion. You have probably viewed the ad. A young couple's television finally dies out. The wife tells her husband that it is all right to go get that new TV set. The excited husband heads down to the electronics shop, credit card in hand. In the background, the music screams "I Want it All, and I Want it Now".

The premise for this ad is the new credit card feature where you can immediately get your available balance via an instant text message on your cell phone. So you can see just how much you can buy.

The underlying message here is "The heck with what you can actually afford. As long as you have some available credit balance, go ahead and use it."

The pharmaceutical companies can now advertise their products (i.e. drugs) to us, but they must clearly include the side effects. It is time we establish a similar regulation for the credit card industry. We must warn people of the side effects of using their card. This would not be new grounds for the financial industry. Commercials for investment companies have disclaimers regarding the risks of investing.

So what are the side effects of making that big purchase on a credit card? What does this commercial not tell us? They don't tell us that you still must be able to afford to pay for that big screen TV. They don't tell us that your big purchase will actually cost you more than the price on your receipt as you will be paying interest on that purchase. So your $1200 television will really cost you $2000 after you are done paying the interest.

They don't tell you that as your credit card balance jumps towards your credit limit, the bank will use that as an excuse to raise your card's interest rate, causing that big purchase to cost you even more.

This is the cycle for financial disaster that too many consumers have fallen into. This is exactly where the credit card companies want you; in the never ending cycle of debt.

Sure, we must take responsibility for our own actions. We must think before we pull out that plastic card. We must also however demand that the credit card advertisements stop sending a message of prosperity by simply using their cards. The bank should be required to give us full disclosure on the effects of using their credit cards.

When we use any other type of financing for any type of purchase, we are aware of exactly the terms and conditions of the purchase. With credit cards, we are clueless as to the actual cost of an item because the credit card companies change the rules and interest rates at their discretion. This needs to be disclosed in their advertisements. When people begin to realize that they really have no idea what that big purchase is really costing them, maybe then we will think twice before proceeding with that "I want it now" purchase.
About the Author
Billed as The True Debt Advisor (Debt Elimination), Jim Vrana's mission is to educate and empower people to overcome their financial challenges. The time-tested legal procedures used to eliminate credit card debt have been used by thousands of people with tremendous success.

Jim Vrana,
(800) 637-1785
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