Pre-Approved Mess

The offer for a pre-approved credit card arrives in the mailbox at just the right time.  Next month is your son’s tenth birthday and the $500 limit will be more than enough to buy him the new video game he craves.  You will be a hero at home without blowing the family budget.  You don’t even need to mail it back.  Just go online, fill in the acceptance form with some personal information, and the credit card is in the mail. 

It might be a good idea to read the fine print on the next “can’t miss” offer.  Recently, a Florida bank was forced to stop offering its “Net First Master Card” because of the terms specified in the fine print, which few people actually read.  The card was issued to all applicants, regardless of credit history, even without a credit check.

Once the card, with a $500 limit, was issued, it was immediately charged $500 in fees, thus reducing the available balance to zero.  As the cardholder paid down the balance, the credit became available.  The required payment was $15 per month; $7 applied to the balance and $8 applied to an ongoing monthly fee.  The reality is that it cost $1,076 and 5 years to build a $500 credit line.

I confess that I have made some poor financial decisions over the years, but it’s hard to imagine that anyone would fall for this deal.  Yet, more than 500,000 Americans signed up for the credit card.  More than half a million people did not read, or at least understand, what they were doing.

It is not uncommon for our desires to cloud our minds when making financial decisions.  There are so many things we would like to have, and they are not always bad things; they might be very legitimate like a birthday present for a child.  However, in order to be faithful stewards we must remain focused.

Most of our financial mistakes are neither evil nor sinful; they are simply careless, thoughtless decisions.  Often we make foolish decisions because we are striving after things rather than trusting in God.  When we are confronted with the opportunity to have these things without waiting on God, it is a difficult temptation to resist.

We are already pre-approved for far more of the world than God wants us to have.  It is much better to be God-approved when it comes to our financial decisions.

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