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Beware On-Campus Credit Card Application Booths

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My first credit card was an AT&T Universal card that I received after filling out an application outside of Doherty Hall on the campus of the esteemed Carnegie Mellon University. I applied because the guy was giving away t-shirts with funny slogans and I thought it was a great way to get a funny t-shirt right? Luckily for me the whole setup was 100% legitimate, since it’s now been eight years and my identity wasn’t stolen; but how many of those similarly setup operations aren’t legitimate? It’s a fantastic way to capture a ton of information in a short period of time from unsuspecting victims who likely aren’t even aware that identity theft happens.

Let’s say that the person accepting applications is entirely legitimate and he personally won’t run off with your information. What’s to say someone doesn’t mug him on his way home or break into his car and steals all that information from him? If you think of all the recent data breaches involving credit card numbers being stolen, they didn’t break into the store or the credit card company databases, they broke into the processor’s databases. Thieves aren’t dumb, they go for the weak link and a guy walking around with a backpack full of identities is a much better target (in terms of return on investment) than a credit card company or you personally.

Now, abstracting away the fact that your identity could be stolen, the fact of the matter is that you aren’t being compensated enough to use the card. There are a ton of credit cards that will give you $100 statement credits upon first purchase, there are a ton of cards that have much better fee structures and interest rates, and there are a ton of cards that give you more cashback rewards than the ones offered on campus. So, even if you aren’t going to have your identity lifted from you, the cards that you can find on your own, especially with the internet, are better than any on campus – plus $100 beats a t-shirt no matter how funny it is.

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4 Responses to “Beware On-Campus Credit Card Application Booths”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I recently read about a fake credit card application booth which “ran out of t-shirts”.

    “I got my identity stolen and I didn’t even get a lousy t-shirt”

  2. Matt says:

    This is how I got my first credit card – a campus booth was offering umbrellas and it was a very rainy day. So I filled out the form so I wouldn’t get soaked.

  3. SavingDiva says:

    I have to admit that I never got a card from a booth…I feel like I missed out on all of the funny slogan t-shirts and free fleece blankets….Luckily, I applied for cards after a lot of research. For some bizarre reason, when I was in undergrad, I was frightened of credit cards….however, when I graduated, the fear was gone and I shopped way too much!

  4. echidnina says:

    I’m glad I never signed up at one of those booths. They just give me bad vibes, I would rather shop around. Lucky for me, my dad helped me out in finding my first credit cards – so I got ones with good rates (as good as a credit-less college student could get, anyway) and no annual fees. It seems so predatory to set up a booth to snag all those college students who probably have no idea of what they’re signing up for.


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