Secret History of the Credit Card
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charge it!

A report on the contentious issue of credit cards and personal responsibility. Who is to blame for Americans' soaring credit card debt -- the credit card industry or the individual consumer?

The Ascendancy of the Credit Card Industry

Again and again, in the face of impending crisis, the industry has managed to outflank critics, sidestep legal hurdles and find new sources of revenue. An overview of its early history and problems, plus the events that propelled its surge in profits starting in the 1980s.

When the Debt Collector Comes Calling

A look at one family's struggles, how debt collection has become a major business and the controversy over abusive practices.

Credit Scores - What You Should Know About Your Own

The vast majority of Americans don't know their credit score -- or even how to find out what it is. Yet the so-called "FICO score" has become a vital statistic that consumers should know and understand.

The Battle Over Share of Wallet

With nearly 144 million Americans now using plastic, it's getting harder than ever to recruit new credit card customers in an increasingly saturated market. Here's an overview of the industry's $5 billion a year marketing strategies.

Trying to Master the Plastic

A profile of one family's 35-year relationship with credit cards and the difference in attitudes between its two generations over incurring credit card debt.

The Cement Life Raft

Bankruptcy expert Elizabeth Warren co-wrote this pithy and comprehensive critique of the "predatory" practices of banks and mortgage lenders and their impact on middle-class Americans.

Paying With Plastic: How It Works  in the Rest of the World

From credit reporting to usury limits and the popularity of debit cards vs. credit -- a comparison of practices in the U.S. and abroad.

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posted nov. 23, 2004

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