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New credit education campaign features interactive game

Treasury, Ad Council team up to build credit smarts in young consumers

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The Advertising Council and U.S. Treasury Department has launched a new multimedia campaign to educate young adults about the need for good credit.

'Don't let your credit put you in a bad place'

The Advertising Council and U.S. Treasury Department are co-sponsoring a new campaign promoting credit education for young adults.

READ the CreditCards.com review of the new interactive Bad Credit Hotel game.

PLAY the new interactive game and submit your review.

The campaign features an online interactive game -- the Bad Credit Hotel -- where users navigate through a darkened hotel and gather enough credit knowledge and clues to unlock the key to a perfect credit score of 850. (See the Bad Credit Hotel game review.)

The game includes a monthly budget calculator that allows users to type in their income and expense figures, outstanding credit card balances and corresponding annual percentage rates (APRs) to determine the number of months it will take to pay off a debt. Another tool allows you to calculate the "real cost" of purchasing a digital camera, tennis shoes, sports car or laptop computer by factoring in the APR and monthly payment amount.

Tutorials provide basic information about such topics as bankruptcy, credit reports, credit history, debt collection and credit counseling services. Links to the Federal Trade Commission's website take users to a request form for a free credit report. At the end of the game, once the user attains a maximum 850 credit score and enters the Good Credit Hotel (a bright and colorful Room 850), the narrator states: "Being here will unlock many doors for you. The point is to aim high."

In addition to the game, a series of Web, television and radio public service announcements will air on media outlets nationwide. All of the commercials end with the same tagline: "Don't let your credit put you in a bad place."

The campaign seeks "to encourage young Americans to think before swiping because bad credit has serious short- and long-term consequences," according to Peggy Conlon, Ad Council president and CEO.

The ads and game target 18- to 24-year-old adults -- a key age group -- according to the Ad Council, which cites data from a Sallie Mae study that more than 50 percent of college students rack up $5,000 or more in credit card debt while in school. Only 10 percent of high schools in the United States teach financial management and 75 percent of graduating seniors do not understand basic investment principles, according to studies conducted by Capital One.

The ads encourage young Americans to think before swiping because bad credit has serious short- and long-term consequences

-- Peggy Conlon 
The Ad Council 

According to the Ad Council, Lowe New York, a global marketing agency, created the campaign pro bono. "Our goal is that the work will demonstrate to young adults that their current financial choices will affect their future, and therefore, they need to start considering the consequences of their everyday decisions," Lowe chairman and chief creative officer Mark Wnek said in a press release.

Adds Treasury Department spokesman Dan Iannicola Jr.: "When we are able to finance things like a home, a car or a college education, credit can help us bring our dreams within reach. But as we see in the headlines, those dreams can become financial nightmares if we don't manage that credit carefully and wisely. We hope this campaign will meet a critical need, educating young adults on the importance of responsible, informed borrowing." 

To comment on this article, write to: Editors@CreditCards.com.

See related: The Bad Credit Hotel game review, More colleges offer course in credit, debt management, Poll shows teens lack credit knowledge, The need for early financial literacy

Published: September 26, 2008


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