College students love, hate new credit card law

Under-21 restrictions will help some, hurt others, students say

College students across the country give mixed reviews to a new law that restricts issuing credit cards to people under 21.

Young adults and credit cards: Law brings big change
Young adults and credit cards:
Law brings big changes

Beginning in February 2010, young adults' access to credit cards will be curtailed, as will credit card marketers' access to students, as part of a far-reaching reform law. looks at how the changes will affect the industry, parents and young adults.

Major provisions of the Credit CARD Act of 2009 are set to take effect Feb. 22, 2010. Some of the changes in the law for new credit card applicants focus specifically on college students and young adults. Credit card issuers will be banned from issuing credit cards to anyone under 21 -- unless they can show proof that they can repay the credit card loans independently or someone over 21 co-signs on the acccount with them.

'It's a good law'
"I think it's a good law," says Cierra Jackson, a 21-year-old public relations major at Florida A & M University. "Most people get credit cards and are in debt before they finish their first year in college."

Adds Marcus Jonsson, 20, from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles: "It doesn't make sense to have a credit card without a steady income. I mean, how do you ever plan to pay it off?"

Quashing financial independence
"I think such a law is ridiculous because it is further limiting our rights that we deserve as adults," says Todd VanDuzer, 19, a business major at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe. He says he has Capital One and Chase credit cards with no debt. "If we can get tried in court as an adult and go to war, we deserve the same rights as an elder would."

Experience is the best way to learn. The sooner you begin to experience something, the sooner you can learn.

-- Paul Lambert   
Notre Dame   

Like VanDuzer, ASU bioengineering freshman Mary Kate Siuba, 18, says she disagrees with the new law's intent. College students are already taking the big step of moving out, she says, adding the law prevents them from becoming independent.

"As an out-of-state student from Indiana, I'm trying to live my life doing as much as I can on my own," Siuba says. "Having my parents co-sign would only be bringing them back into the picture."

To avoid having her parents co-sign, Siuba says she plans to apply to for a credit card before the new law takes effect in February.

Amanda Ionovsky, a 19-year-old University of Notre Dame student questions why the law focuses on under-21 as the cut off age.

"As soon as they turn 21, what's going to change? Are they instantly going to know how to spend money?" Ionovsky asks. "There are a lot of people out there who are under 21 who are a lot smarter and know what to do with their money a lot better than even people in their late 30s."

Really, it doesn't bother me too much that they would want to make sure people can afford to pay back money that they're spending.

-- Ben Pfeifer
Notre Dame 

Doesn't want anyone 'playing mom'
Emory University sophomore Alice Chen, 19, who has two credit cards that she pays for on her own, says she feels that having a credit card allows her to live more independently as a young adult. Chen says she adamantly opposes the law, even if it could help some students avoid credit card debt.

"I don't think it's the government's responsibility to make sure we spend our money wisely," Chen says. "I don't need or want anybody playing mom."

Chen adds that she will likely apply for another credit card that has a rewards program before the law goes into effect. She said she would not ask her parents to co-sign on a credit card account.

"I think my parents will feel like they have the authority to tell me what I can or can't spend money on because as co-signers they become responsible for what I am unable to pay off monthly," Chen says. "I'm the one making the money; I'm the one who's going to spend it. That's my business."

Building up good credit
Andrew Jacks, 20, a secondary education junior at ASU who uses his Citi credit card for books, gas, groceries and emergencies, said he has learned to manage his credit card debt, which once reached $800, and urges others to do the same.

Jacks said he believes the law would prevent students, who do not have an income or whose parents will not co-sign, from starting to build up their credit.

If people are going to be irresponsible, they'll be irresponsible at 18 and 21.

-- Lisa Maida
University of Missouri-Columbia

He says one of the benefits of having a credit card as a college student is building up good credit early. "Students are going into college at 18, so they have four years to build up their credit," Jacks says. "By the time they graduate from college, they will have some credit for when they go out in the workforce."

Emory sophomore Mike Seidman, 19, says he believes not having a credit card would make his college experience more difficult.

"I use my credit card for almost all of my purchases and without one, my spending possibilities would be severely limited, especially for higher ticket items," he says.

They don't want people to put themselves in a hole. I just don't want a credit card because I do not want to get bad credit.

-- Ashley Williams
Florida A&M University 

Seidman said although having a debit card is a good alternative for young adults, he does not believe debit cards alone are enough. He said he uses a debit card linked to his checking account to pay off his credit card to help him build his credit score.

Because he already has one personal credit card, he says, he does not plan to apply for a second credit card before the new law takes effect.

Freelance writers Griselda Nevarez, Josh Barone, Lexi Belculfine, Tiffany Han, Nicole Blake, Keaton Gray, Skyy Sandifer and the University of Miami/Miami News Service contributed to this report.

Big changes on campus: Students meet credit card reform

See related: Credit card reform and you, A comprehensive guide to the Credit CARD Act of 2009, Will new credit card law help or hurt consumers, How to cope until the new credit card rules take effect, What the new credit card rules mean for you, Interactive time line: How the bill became law, when its provisions take effect, Law alters cozy relationship between colleges, credit card issuers

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Updated: 02-23-2019