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 Grade 4 and the entire universe.
For certain, 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 that came up with that idea. We had no idea we were learning critical current events and 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 from the current edition of My Weekly Reader, not unlike the following current facts about credit cards:
- The first credit card was introduced in 1946, called “Charge-It.” The catch was that a user had to have an account at the Flatbush National Bank of New York and could make purchases only locally. It was a charge card (as opposed to a credit card) because the bill had to be paid in full at the end of each month.
- Credit cards expire because the magnetic strip and or chip gets a lot of abuse and needs to be replaced. A magnetic strip is good for only about 3-4 years of swiping.
- In 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court in Smiley vs. Citibank lifted restrictions on the size of the penalty fee a credit card company could charge for being late. (Yikes!)
- Only a 1% credit card interest rate in 2015 would cost Americans $7.6 billion annually.
- There are nearly 10,000 credit card transactions around the world—every second!
- In the U.S, there are about 1.4 billion cards in circulation, even though 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.)
- Excluding zero-balance cards and store cards, the average credit card debt per U.S. adult in 2021 was $5,525.
- Women are more likely than men to be charged a late fee, pay the minimum payment, and carry a credit card balance.
- Minimum credit card payments are quite low because it allows people to go into deeper debt. (Can you say “trap”?)
- Credit card companies are mostly located in states with a high or no cap on interest rates, for example, Delaware.
- Credit cards are the most profitable sector of the American banking industry, with more than $30 billion in annual profits.
- Credit card companies have a nickname for someone who pays their bill in full each month, bringing the balance to $0—a “deadbeat.”
- The most prestigious card is the invitation-only American Express Black (Centurion) Card, with a $10,000 first-year initiation fee and a $5,000-per-year annual fee. To qualify, one must have an annual income of at least $1 million. However, 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!