Congress aims to change credit card rules for people under 21

Laptops ready? Take notes: Congress wants it to be harder for the under-21 set to accrue a mountain of credit card debt.

A new federal law affects credit card holders — and those who want cards — of all ages. But because several provisions don't take effect until February, this could be the last semester of truly easy credit for many college students.

``I don't want to say credit cards are evil,'' said Cathy Pareto, a certified financial planner in Coral Gables. ``But targeting that demographic has long been an abusive practice. [Credit card companies] take advantage of the naïvete of teenagers.''

A recent survey by student loan manager Sallie Mae said that the average amount of debt carried by undergraduate cardholders is $3,173 — up 46 percent from five years ago. And the average number of credit cards these students have is about five.

Peter Pham, CEO of, summarized the parts of the law that affect young people like this.

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