This is the VOA Special
English Economics Report.
Buy now, pay later.
Credit cards give people that
choice. Those billions of small pieces of plastic in use
all over the world
make it easy to buy
things. But people who use credit cards
irresponsibly can soon
find themselves heavily in
Cardholders may not
think about it, but they
borrow money from a bank or other
lender each time they
charge something. They avoid
interest charges if they pay their
in full each month. But
if they only make the minimum
payment, the lowest
required, it may take years
to pay off a debt.
Interest is continually charged on the
A credit card may have a number of
costs. First, there is
the interest charge on
purchases, known as
the annual percentage rate,
or A.P.R. In the United States right now, the
average is between
thirteen and fourteen percent. Some cards are a lot higher. Many also
charge yearly fees of
twenty-five dollars or more
just to keep them.
Cardholders may have to pay
cash advance fees if they
withdraw money from a
credit card. There are also fees if they
go over their credit
limit, or if a payment is late.
Lenders may also raise
interest rates as punishment.
In the United States, credit card fees
have become a political
issue. Congress has threatened
to take action against
what critics call abusive
behavior by lenders.
Yet getting a credit
card has become a lot easier for most people.
Maybe too easy: People
receive offers in the
mail of pre-approved cards that they never asked for. Many cards offer
low rates at first, especially if people
agree to move their
balance from another card.
About half of all Americans have
at least two credit
cards. And the credit rating
agency Experian says fourteen percent of the population has more than
Jeanne Hogarth at the Federal Reserve, the central bank, says the
average family has four credit cards. But families that
carry a balance,
meaning they do not pay
off their statements
each month, have an average of five.
In nineteen eighty-eight Americans had three hundred thirty billion
dollars in credit card debt. Last year it was eight hundred forty
In the latest government study, the average credit card debt for all
households was more
than three thousand dollars. But for those that carried a balance, the
average was five thousand three hundred.
And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario
Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.
buy now, pay later: compre ahora, pague después;
choice: alternativa; all over the world: en
todo el mundo; make it easy: facilitan;
irresponsibly: irresponsablemente; in debt:
sumamente endeudados; cardholders: los poseedores
de tarjetas de crédito; borrow: piden prestado;
lender: prestamista; avoid interest charges:
evitan los débitos de intereses; bill: cuenta,
factura; in full: completa; payment: pago;
lowest required: mínimo exigido; to pay off a debt:
saldar una deuda; unpaid balance: saldo impago;
costs: costos; purchases: las compras; known
as: conocido como; average: promedio; yearly
fees: tasas anuales; just to keep them: sólo
para mantenerlas; cash: al contado; withdraw:
retiran; go over: exceden; late:
atrasado; raise: subir; punishment:
penalidad; have become: se han transformado;
threatened: amenazado; to take action against:
confrontar; abusive behavior: comportamiento
abusivo; yet getting: aún así conseguir; maybe
too easy: quizás demasiado fácil; offers:
promociones; agree: acuerda, acepta; at least:
por lo menos; credit rating: evaluadora de
crédito; carry: arrastran; meaning: lo cual
significa; statements: extractos o resúmenes de
cuenta; households: hogares.