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Unbeknownst to most of our generation, the drinking age was–kind of recently–below the age of 21. In fact, it wasn’t until the National Minimum Drinking Age Act that the United States mandated that all states change the legal purchase age to 21. Before then, it varied by state. I remember my mom telling me an anecdote of students from WSU driving across the border into Idaho to pick up booze on Friday nights. The age limit for more and more things is trending upwards and the latest thing is credit cards.

Credit Cards, No Longer All Ages

If your parents have been receiving a slew of credit card offers in your name, it’s probably because the credit card companies want to lock you in before they legally no longer can, without your parents’ consent. The recently passed Credit CARD Act of 2009 will limit raise the age that one can own a credit card, starting February 22, 2010. If you are younger than 21, you’ll need a parent or guardian to co-sign on the card. Credit cards already granted will not be affected.

Denying Rights or Protecting Against Irresponsibility?

While we are all for creating a little mischief, credit cards give me the heebeejeebies. For some reason, spending money via a credit card is exactly like procrastinating a paper: we all know it’s bad, but we still do it. You can usually procrastinate and still get an A on the paper, but every once in awhile you’ll hear a tale of someone misbudgeting their time and screwing themselves.

Some university presidents have banded together recently to form the Amethyst Initiative to re-lower the drinking age back down to 18. We say hell yeah.

While I personally would be an advocate of greater personal responsibility, this bill does make it more difficult for credit card companies to do shiesty things like arbitrarily raising interest rates, falsely advertising cards and more. For that reason, I’m cool with it. Yeah, it’s crappy that you can no longer get a credit card at 18. 

So until the bill goes into effect on February 22, make sure you read all of the fine print on that card. And be ready for the rates and terms to change the day you graduate. It’s just the way student cards work right now.

What do you think about the Credit CARD Act of 2009? Should we be given a great degree of freedom or is the 21 age-limit a good thing?