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Survival Spending: Latino Credit Card Users Charge Necessities, Worry About Jobs

 

 

Washington, DC-Latinos rely on their credit cards to cover everyday expenses that their paychecks can't afford, according to a report released today by NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. The report is based on findings from focus groups conducted in Chicago, Atlanta, and San Antonio. Participants revealed that they used their cards for necessities and are concerned about debt in the face of job instability. "In the midst of economic uncertainty and record-high unemployment, Hispanic credit card users struggle to reduce their debt and build a solid credit history. The reality is that credit may be the only way to keep food on the table or cover unexpected trips to the doctor," said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO. "Federal regulators and card issuers must develop effective approaches to delivering affordable credit to underserved communities, putting families on the path to the middle class rather than cyclical debt." Major findings from Survival Spending: The Role of Credit Cards in Hispanic Households reflect the dominant themes of six focus groups conducted in May and June 2009 and provide insight into the behaviors of Hispanic card users. Specifically, the report shows that Latinos:

  • Believe building credit is important, and many learned this lesson from their friends and family
  • Feel strongly that credit lines should be used responsibly, which for participants meant reserving the card for covering necessities in between paychecks or unforeseen expenses
  • Are concerned about overspending at a time when jobs are unstable and income may be unpredictable
  • Are not always aware of the potentially negative consequences of some consumer behaviors but often feel caught by traps laid in fine print and seemingly harsh responses

In response to the experiences of Latino cardholders, NCLR calls on credit card issuers and policymakers to invest in credit options that:

  • Are fairly priced, transparent, and accessible to underserved communities
  • Make objective financial advice available to all families
  • Graduate automatically to a more favorably priced card
  • Expand technology to target first-time users and introduce innovative payment options

For more information, visit www.nclr.org | http://www.facebook.com/nationalcounciloflaraza | http://www.myspace.com/nclr2008 | http://twitter.com/nclr.

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