The Center for
Mathematics and Quantitative Education at Dartmouth

Money Matters
The Financial Literacy Initiative at Dartmouth College

Understanding Credit Card Offers

According to a 2009 Sallie Mae study, 84% of college students have at least one credit card and, on average, more than four credit cards. These young people carry a mean balance of over $3,000 and only 18% manage to pay the full balance every month. It is no wonder that 84% of college undergraduates say they need more financial education, in either high school or as first year college students.

Where did all these credit cards come from? In this module we lead students to explore the merits of various credit card offers, starting with the common offer of a reduced price for purchases at the checkout counter in return for opening a credit card with the department store. Students receive many credit offers as undergraduates, and one key to good financial practice is the ability to make smart decisions about when to use credit and which card to choose.

We suggest that instructors open the instructor notes for this module, save them as a PDF file, and print them for reference.

This module also includes assessment tools (pre and post test) and a case study for deeper investigation of this topic. These resources are available by contacting Audrey Brown .

Janine Lloyd, MassBay Community College, Jessica Polito, Wellesley College, Ken Hawes,Wellesley College, Eric Gaze, Bowdoin College, Dorothy Wallace, Dartmouth College, Kim Rheinlander, Dartmouth College.