Research and Statistics

2008: A year in review


The year 2008 saw unprecedented change in the credit card industry, turning card debt from convenient friend into everyone’s enemy. These are the top 10 stories that helped chronicle it.

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Throw out all the old rules. The year 2008 saw unprecedented change for credit card debt. It turned from everyone’s convenient friend into the enemy of card issuers and consumers alike. Even as we look ahead to 2009, editors looked through 2008 and plucked 10 stories that showed the biggest changes, the most popular stories and the year’s most outrageous and funniest articles.

Credit card reforms1. The year’s biggest credit card news:
What the new credit card reforms mean for you

In December, regulators passed rules to end deceptive “gotcha” practices in the credit card industry. The rules — the most significant in nearly three decades — fundamentally change the way credit card issuers market, bill and advertise credit cards.


Debt collection2. Best news you can use:
Debt collection sample letters

As credit card delinquencies rose, more credit cardholders were confronted for the first time with debt collectors. Of course, everyone should pay their debts, but debt collectors sometimes go beyond the legal limits in what they can do and say. This series of debt collection sample letters let debtors assert their rights and make them stick.


Credit card taboo3. Most outrageous credit card news:
Credit card debt the new taboo topic

Religion, politics and sex, move over. Discussing credit card debt is the new taboo. People would rather talk about anything — their weight, their health problems, even details of their love lives — rather than talk about their credit card debt.


State statutes of limitation4. Most clickable news feature:
State statutes of limitation for credit card debt

We worked tirelessly to comb the Web and put together a clickable state-by-state map with links to every state’s statutes of limitation for credit card debt. This continues to be one of our most clicked articles, and the interactive map is certainly the year’s most clickable feature.


Credit card music5. Funniest credit card story:
13 greatest credit card songs meld pop, plastic

With a gloomy economy knocking on 2009’s doorstep, many people found 2008’s credit card news to be no laughing matter. But writer Jay MacDonald paused for a laugh a few times this year, and his article on how credit cards are seen in popular music reminded us all that sometimes when banks fail laughter’s the best remedy.


Debit card car rental6. Best pocketbook advice:
Renting a car with a debit card or cash? Expect to try harder

Suffice to say, the price of gas this year wasn’t very steady. But even with the ups and downs in gas prices, many readers wanted to rent a car anyway. Our article on renting a car with a debit card or cash featured a survey of the top rental car companies and was a must read for cash-conscientious consumers wanting to forgo putting anything — including a car rental — on their credit card.


Racial discrimination in credit card issuance7. Most reader rousing story:
Who gets a credit card may be a matter of black and white

Readers were shocked to find out that people living in white neighborhoods are more likely to be approved for credit cards than those living in black neighborhoods. Banks deny that race is a factor in granting credit cards or setting credit limits, but consumer advocates and fair lending activists found a study on systematic, institutionalized racism in financial markets to be a scary reminder of why low-income, black and Hispanic borrowers are often forced to seek loans from payday lenders and other high-interest, high-cost sources.


Super Bowl credit card ads8. Best credit card blog entry:
Credit card ads from Super Bowls gone by

Staff reporter Jeremy Simon, writing for Taking Charge, the blog, was inspired by the Super Bowl to assemble videos of the best credit card Super Bowl advertisements.


Credit card facts9. Most viewed credit card article:
Credit card industry facts, debt statistics

In 2008, people became intensely interested in their credit cards. Our frequently updated listing of information and statistics related to the credit card industry made it a go-to online source for credit card facts — and our most viewed credit card article in 2008.


The Credit Guy10. Best credit card advice column:
How to opt out of credit card rate increases

Credit card issuers sharply tightened their credit standards in 2008, and one method was to slap cardholders — even those who played by the rules and paid their bills faithfully — with rate increases. Our reader Q&A columnist, Todd Ossenfort — aka “The Credit Guy” — instructed a Nashville reader on the steps needed to decline a credit card interest rate increase.


See related:9 predictions for credit cards in 2009

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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