inside the meltdown

ADDITIONAL LESSON IDEA: “Credit Cards and Borrowing”


Understanding how credit cards work and how to responsibly make them a part of your cash management plan is important. If you pay your bill on time every month, that is a good first step. If you can keep a zero balance by paying credit cards in full every month, you can avoid being what the film The Secret History of the Credit Card calls a "deadbeat." This keeps you from paying higher interest rates.

Click the link for eight things everyone should know about credit cards.

  • What does the term "universal default" mean? Why is that dangerous for credit card users?
  • What are typical amounts that banks charge for late fees? Are they trending upward or downward?
  • How many Americans pay only the minimum payment each month on their card? What are the pros and cons of this choice?
  • Look for the box on the right that is titled "Poll: What's Your Balance?" What is the average balance Americans keep on their credit cards? How do you think that amount grows to be so high for so many people?
  • Click back to the start page. Click on the link for the "A Credit Card Quiz." Take the quiz. Of the 11 questions, how many did you get right? What was the most interesting fact you discovered that you did not know?


Additional Resources:

This American Life from Chicago Public Radio has a series of interesting podcasts concerning the credit crisis. Follow this link to hear the episode, “The Giant Pool of Money.

Another helpful episode is “Bad Bank.


Method of Assessment:

Class participation
Completion of assignments


home » previous reports » watch online » about us » teacher center » newsletter »  rss feeds » email FRONTLINE » privacy policy » wgbh » pbs

FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of WGBH Educational Foundation
Web Site Copyright ©1995-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation