Written by Gaurav Bhola, MSM, Managing Editor & Community Manager on December 19, 2007 5:05 pm EST
In the world of credit card companies, anything and anyone is fair game, until the laws say otherwise. The targeting of college students is well researched and positioned. Like other predatory business, such as payday loans, credit card issuers also prey upon the weak, the financially unsavvy. Like cigarette companies, card companies want to hook consumers to their product at a young age. In their quest for business perpetuity, card companies have expanded their innovative marketing efforts to the halls of higher education.
The aim of credit card companies on campus is to get college students to fill out completed applications. With the full acquiescence of the college and university, college students are recruited by card companies to solicit their fellow college students to apply for credit cards.
A credit card college representative provides the initial training to a group of students interested in making easy money, commission sales. A student card salesman can earn up to $15 for every completed application. In return for completing an application, you get a free shirt or some other trinket. That seems like a fair trade, your personal information for a t-shirt.
So student salesmen play the role of enthusiastic credit card pushers; while their prey, fellow college students may end up as credit card addicts. This is a clever strategy, hiring college students to seek out their circle of influence (friends) and then walk the corridors of their university to target other unsuspecting students.
Students are employed to target students because they come off as non-threatening, as being one of their own. Certainly a middle aged person would have less success marketing to young college students, than another student. The student salesmen are provided training by the card reps on how to approach students, giveaway free gifts, and most importantly, how to overcome objections.
Some of the objection handlers are, “Once you get the card, you don’t have to use it, you can cut it up,” “Once you get your dream job after graduating, you can easily payoff the card,” “If you start building your credit history now, you’ll have great credit right out of college,” “Can come in handy when you’re strapped for cash,” “Show your college pride by getting your very own college logo credit card,” and more.
In addition to college campuses, card issuers use high traffic strategic locations around campus to market to students. They put up their flee market tents in these areas, and start doling out trinkets in exchange for completed applications.
However you look at it this is exploitation of financially unsophisticated students for profit. Where is the corporate conscience, doesn’t corporate citizenship extend to putting an end to such abhorrent marketing practices?
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