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Thin Line Between Heaven and Hell

A hHundred years ago, the thought of bringing enough cash to purchase your dream house was outrageous. In a modern settingToday, holding a rectangular piece of plastic smaller than the size of your palm can get you almost anything you want. Everyone must have a moment in their childhood when they begged their parents to get something that they really wanted. , a A parent might ask, “Tell meAnd how am I going to pay for it? ”, and our typical answer would be, “Just take that card out and swipe it!

” A credit card was thought to bring convenience to humanity. No longer dido people need to bring a stack of cash out or fear ing that they might have the financial incapacitynot be able to get the latest Gucci bag on the showcase. Now you can gGo crazy with your shopping-spree, but can you really handle it? Credit cards areis a “silent killer” to many people;, they causing cause a lot of unforeseeable harms as financially deadly to the family budget as cancer-cells are to the body.

Charging for athe cost of products or services to a credit card has now become a way of life. The origin of credit card datesd back to the 1920s, when companies such as gas stations and hotel chains issued credit cards to their customers to speed up the payment process. The idea of thea credit card was inspired by a novel, “Looking Backward”, written by Edward Bellamy. The term “credit card” was used in Bellamy’s novel, andit serveds as a method of transaction, similar to the idea of credit card we see today.

With the help of a credit card, customers’ shopping experience had enhancedwas enhanced. After the 1930s, credit cards became more popular and many companies started to accept credit cards as a method of payment. During the 1950s, the launch of the Diners Club Card allowed customers to pay conveniently at restaurants, without the hassle and potential dangers of carrying cash. By the 1960s, more and more companies offered credit card to the public, shaping the society we see today. The appearance of the credit card had undergone many transformations.

Credit cards weren’t initially made of plastic, instead, they were made of other materials such as: credit tokens, metal coins, metal plates, papers and many more. A company that is worth mentioning is the Diners Club Credit Card. During the 1950s, the launch of the Diners Club allowed customers to pay conveniently at restaurants, without going through the hazard of cash payments. By 1960s, more and more companies offered credit card to the public, shaping the society we see today. Keeping with up a fabulous lifestyle requires an extravagant outfit, a gorgeous haircut, and last but not least, a credit card.

The cCredit card has become part of a lifestyle, and is now a necessity to many modern people, it is a necessity. Like many products, the primary function of credit cards had deviatedhas ,changed; nowadays, credit cards not only acts as a method of payment, but has alsonow also act become as status symbols. “Strikingly crossed over nearly all class, gender, age, regional, national and ideological lines to become the universally worn and widely accepted item of apparel they are today. ” (Davis 102) Like denims, Ccredit cards come in different styles for different people.

In order to cope with everyone’s needs, Ccredit cards are categorized into different colors (such as: black, platinum, gold, silver and more) according to the amount of money people spend and/or make thereby establishing a mode of conveying status. The idea of pigeonholing customers in the credit card industry allows certain customers to enjoy more privileges than others,others; however, many people do not get such special treatments, as a result, lowering people’s self esteem and causing a lot of unnecessary embarrassments and harms.

Many might be aware of the “Snowball Effect” but little do they know that it can be applied to credit cards as well. Many credit card customers are owners of more than one credit card. Having more than one credit card allows the owner the freedom and the flexibility to arrange his/her own finance. Credit card in a way “… … affects us all, both directly and indirectly, consciously and subconsciously. ” (Conway 3) The downside of owning a credit card is that people with a lack of self-discipline might have trouble controlling their spending habits.

“Shopaholics”, as such people are colloquially called, As a result, people get into tocreate huge debts as they charge every purchase to each card they own. Many of these “shopaholics” might be aware of the “Snowball Effect”, but do not know that applies to credit card debt. This is often exploited by credit card companies by establishing an artificially low “minimum payment”. roll into more and more payments. Many of these people are diagnosed with a common sickness known as “Shopaholic”, all because of credit card company’s evil marketing strategy.

Do no believe what the commercial says, “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else there’s MasterCard. ” The advertisement slogan can be a little misleading, as some people might perceive it as true. Many credit card consumers do not realize that the “minimum payment” does not pay down even the interest owed on their debts. As a result, their debt load skyrockets. As a result, “Today, the average family owes roughly $8,000 on their credit cards.

This debt has helped generate record profits for the credit card industry — last year, more than $30 billion before taxes. ” (FRONTLINE) This is a social phenomenon that many households are facing nowadays, and it can only be stopped if people starting to gain self-discipline and control over their spending habits. Like digital watches, Today, ccredit cards nowadays come with a lot ofmany additional complimentary services and functions to attract customers.

which are “…… … like many other products in our society, they now also carry many enticing and entirely irrelevant extras with which to titillate and amuse the potential buyer. ” (Porch 116) The primary function of a credit card is to serve as a method of payment, however, credit card companies want to differentiate themselves from other competitors by providing extra -services. For example, tThe American Express invitation-only “Black Centurion Card” offers a 24 hours Concierge Service in which provides attention to its customers worldwide.

(These credit cards cannot be applied, American Express only issue them to certain customers) In one of its advertisement campaigns , American Express toutedpromoted that the Concierge Service, asserting the service can help its customers with almost everythinganything, even delivering a pizza in the middle of the night. Consumers might be misguided bybelieve the such services offered ares complimentary;, however many credit card companies that provide such services like including American Express charges high annual fees, in this case, American Express charges $2500.

00 US dollars annually to its Centurion Card members. Credit card companies typically charge a high annual fee in order to offsetcompensate the cost of maintaining operating these services. , meanwhile a lot of these customers do not fully utilize them. Most card holders, however, underutilize these services. There is nNo doubt that the credit card has been shed light as an invention that has brought convenience to the humanity. , Hhowever, there exist many visible defects remain visible. The cCredit card has slowly evolved into a form of drug.

,M as many people are addicted to the illusory freedom of the shopping spree and putting place too many more debits into on their credit cards. It has also brainwashed many individuals, as the credit card has become a forman indispensible part of their lifestyle than many peoplethey depend on. Behind all the glamorous services that credit card companies offer , many of which charge an unreasonablyare unreasonably high fees. The cCredit card is not as good as it seems after all, one must have the self-discipline to control his/herone’s spending behavior.

Always remember what the guru of personal finance, Suze Orman says, “A big part of financial freedom is having your heart and mind free from worry about the what-ifs of life. ” (Orman) and “spend wisely”!

Works Cited

“American Express Black Centurion Card – Value or Ultimate Status Symbol. ” Ask Mr. Credit Card’s Blog. Ask Mr. Credit Card. 3 Apr. 2008 <http://askmrcreditcard. com/creditcardblog/americanexpressblackcenturioncard/>. Bellis, Mary. “Who Invented Credit Cards? ” INVENTORS. About. Com. 28 Mar. 2008 <http://inventors.about. com/od/cstartinventions/a/credit_cards. htm>. Conway, Hazel. “Design History Basics. ” In Design History: A Student’s Handbook, ed. Hazel Conway, 3-14. London: Unwin Hyman, 1987. “Credit Card Advertising Slogans. ” Database of Slogans. Text Art. 30 Mar. 2008 <http://www. textart. ru/database/slogan/credit-card-advertising-slogans. html>. Davis, Fred. “Blue Jeans. ” In Signs of Life in the USA: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers, 5th edition, 101-108. Edited by Sonia Massik and Jack Solomon.

New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 2006. Orman, Suze. “Suze Orman Quotes. ” Think Exists. Think Exists. 4 Apr. 2008 <http://thinkexist. com/quotes/suze_orman/>. “Secret History of the Credit Card. ” FRONTLINE. 18 Mar. 2008. PBS. 30 Mar. 2008 <http://www. pbs. org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/credit/etc/synopsis. html>. Porch, Richard. “The Digital Watch: Tribal Bracelet of the Consumer Society. ” Design Discourse, edited by Victor Margolin. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989, pp. 115-118.

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