The fall I turned 18, I celebrated my birthday with my new college friends, and then signed up for my first credit card outside of the dining commons with a representative from Capital One. I think I even got a free T-shirt for applying.
This move — bank reps with clipboards standing next to hungover college kids and their all-you-can-eat french toast sticks — was pretty standard in 2005. The recession was still a few years away, and reps were eager to capture the youngest demographic of spenders.
Four years later, I graduated with $5,000 in credit card debt, all of which was spent on stuff I did not need. Though I never missed a payment, I only paid the $25 minimum payment on each of my cards, and I also spent nearly eight times that much every month.
Since I was so young, my interest rate was through the roof, around 25%. Too bad I didn't really know what interest rates were at the time.