Well, the PARADE story on credit cards that many of you helped me with reached 41 million households and generated tens of thousands of requests for more information.

You know those laundry baskets prisoners use to escape from penitentiaries in the movies? They’re under the shirts and get rolled out by unsuspecting guards and then jump out of the truck once they’re clear of the prison walls? We’re talking about enough mail to more than fill one of those.

And that was just the physical mail to the Consumer Federation of America, which had offered an informational brochure. What about the e-mail? I liked this one from George Yurgaitis:

“I’m 31 now and have 2 credit cards. When I was 23, I had over 30 cards. I carried most with me, but thankfully never used them. It was a game to collect as many as possible. I did notice one part of the PARADE story that I had to laugh about. I started collecting the credit card offers that arrive in my mailbox on March 1 of this year (okay, so I forgot in January and February), just as one of the profiled people in PARADE had done. He received 34 credit card offers. 34?! To date, my wife and I have received over 120 – with the big month of December to go. To boot, my two-year-old son has received four offers in the past six weeks as well. I haven’t even been including the store credit cards and the mortgage equity loan offers in my count. I haven’t decided, but I may mail the card offers I have received back to the card companies with a note to see what sort of response I’ll get in return.”

George and his wife very rarely carry a balance. When they do, they shift the balance to a new card with a low introductory rate and pay it off before it climbs to the regular rate.

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We picked five of those tens of thousands of letters out of the laundry cart last week (OK, maybe they’re how terrorists get out of hotels – don’t hold me to the specifics), and in addition to its little brochure, CFA will be sending each of those folks $1,000 to help jump-start their debt-repayment regime.

Repeat after me, yet again: Credit cards are for convenience only. Borrow against them – run a balance – only in true emergencies.

 

 

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