Like Fourth Grade All Over Again

I’m not sure why I loved fourth grade so much. Maybe it was because my teacher was extra pretty and her name was Mrs. Hunt (who could’ve guessed?). Or that I sat behind Rick Collier voted by all the girls to be the cutest in the entire universe.

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For sure it had something to do with “My Weekly Reader,” our very own kid-size newspaper that showed up on our desks after recess every Friday. I have to hand it to the genius who came up with that idea. We had no idea we were learning important current events and other stuff that would stay with us for a lifetime. Like Roy G. Biv. I swear I’ll never forget that guy.

No Friday in the fourth grade was complete without a few fun facts, not unlike the following that I learned only recently about credit cards:

1. The very first credit card was introduced in 1946, named “Charge-It.” The catch was that a user had to have an account at the Flatbush National Bank of New York and purchases could be made only locally. Technically, it was a charge card, because the bill had to be paid in full at the end of each month.

2. The reason credit cards expire is because the magnetic strip gets a lot of abuse and needs to be replaced. A magnetic strip is good for only about 3 to 4 years of swiping. 

3. In 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court in Smiley vs. Citibank lifted restrictions on the amount of late penalty fees a credit card company can charge. (Yikes!)

4. Just a 1% credit-card interest rate increase in 2015 would cost Americans $7.6 billion a year.

5. There are nearly 10,000 credit-card transactions around the world—every second!

6. In the U.S, there are about 1.4 billion cards in circulation, even though there are only 320 million people, of whom only 227 million are adults. (Mrs. Hunt would have made us do the math to figure out how many credit cards per adult.)

7. Excluding zero-balance cards and store cards, the average credit-card debt per U.S. adult in 2013 was $4,878.

8. Women are more likely than men to be charged a late fee, pay only the minimum payment and carry a credit card balance. (Come on, ladies. Really?)

9. Minimum credit-card payments are so ridiculously low because it allows people to go deeper into debt. (Can you say “trap”?)

10. Credit-card companies incorporate their operations in states that allow very high or no-cap on interest rates, for example Delaware and South Dakota.

11. Credit cards are the most profitable sector of the American banking industry, with more than $30 billion in profits per year.

12. Credit-card companies have a nickname for people who pay their bill in full  each month: deadbeats. (Raise your hand if you’re a proud deadbeat. Wow, look at that…hands going up all over the room.)

13. The most expensive card is the invitation-only American Express Centurion Card, with a $7,500 first-year initiation fee and a $2,500-per-year annual fee. The average Centurion cardholder has an annual income of $1.3 million and $16.3 million in assets.

And Roy G. Biv? He’s that guy in the rainbow. Remember his name and you’ll never get your colors out of order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

See? Fairly useless, but memorable. And fun!

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6 replies
  1. Jane
    Jane says:

    Proud to be a deadbeat who pays the balance each month, using my one cc as a charge card. There were a few times over the years when I couldn’t pay it all off each month but that’s always been my goal. p.s. I loved the Weekly Reader too! I wonder if it’s still around?

    Reply
  2. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    Debt free for decades and pay off charge card. If I had Warren Buffet’s money, I wouldn’t pay $2000+ for a charge card. I gave AEX because of the “membership fee”…get real…you’re charging me for simply owning your card. I. do. not. think. so.

    Reply
  3. Emily Swanson
    Emily Swanson says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed today’s article. It took me on a walk down memory lane…not only to remember my own fourth grade teacher named Mrs. McDougal (who has blue hair), but to recall the Weekly Reader with much joy. And friends, mine came on Fridays in the 1940’s…now my great grandchildren are receiving it. And as the article said, “it is still teaching current events” to an unsuspecting child!

    Reply
  4. Joann
    Joann says:

    Wow, brings back great memories. Fourth grade was my favorite, too! Miss Kessler – young and pretty and wore red shoes!! The Weekly Reader was part of our classroom discussion. Thank you for stirring up thoughts of that fun year.

    Reply
  5. Luisa
    Luisa says:

    This column had fascinating information about credit cards, and made me doubly glad that I don’t carry balances on them any more. It also made me happy to think about attending elementary school in the 1960’s and receiving Weekly Reader. I still remember information from articles I read back then, and it’s good to read about others who do also.

    Reply
  6. Missionary Juanita
    Missionary Juanita says:

    Good afternoon, everyone. As missionaries on the field, we have a problem with fleas on our pets, yard, house, etc. Please help. We need a home remedy for this problem. The flea shampoos and flea powders are not doing it. Thanks ahead of time.
    Blessings

    Reply

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