Credit Card Worthiness

Kieran Healy recounts how he talked his six-and-a-half-week-old son out of declining to apply for the Citibank Platinum Select Mastercard he was offered.

Times have certainly changed. About eighteen years ago, as a young Army officer, I applied for a gold card and was turned down on the grounds that I wasn’t making enough money. Four years later, just out of the Army and temporarily unemployed en route to graduate school, I was considered worthy of a platinum card. Soon thereafter, credit card companies began setting up stations on the quad to give out cards — and free T-shirts! — to any undergraduate who would take one.

Somehow, I don’t think this is a positive evolution.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John Burgess says:

    I’m not sure this is any sort of evolution. It seems more cyclic to me. When I was in university, some 30 years ago, I was getting free credit cards in the the mail all the time. Not just offers, but the cards themselves, which would be activated upon use.

    As everyone else at the school was getting them, too, there was a lot of loose credit floating around. Quite a few students learned, the hard way, about managing their money. That, I suspect, led to a tightening of card distribution (mail theft didn’t seem to be an issue). Now, and for the past ten years, things seem to have been loosing up again, with mail solicitations making up a sizeable proportion of junk mail.

  2. Rick DeMent says:

    Well now that the government passed the last bankruptcy bill making them the enforcement arm, the banks no longer have to exercise any responsibility for whom they extend credit.

    As for 30 years ago I couldn’t even get a gas CC let alone a bank credit card of any strip, me thinks you are talking about 20 years ago.