Thursday, July 21, 2011

Are Banks Still Marketing on Campus?

While bank reps are no longer crowding the university sidewalks with their tchotchkes and credit card applications this fall due to new rules set forth by the Credit CARD Act of 2009, some students still have the sense that these solicitations are alive and well within arm’s distance. It’s like they never left. And after spending an aggressive $82.4 million pushing plastic on students in 2009, credit card companies appear to remain a vibrant part of the campus makeup, even if just as a figment of students’ imaginations. But Lisa Powers, a Penn State spokesperson, assured me that Bank of America – which has a Penn State-branded card – is no longer marketing its plastic on or near campus. “Bank of America is in full compliance with the student marketing provisions of the Credit Card Act, as well as any campus restrictions and state and federal regulations,” said Powers. “I do believe and hope that all [other banks] are complying.”
On Penn State’s main campus the ghosts of bank reps apparently haunt student pedestrians. While tailgating this weekend at my alma mater, a current PSU student mentioned how he can’t avoid strolling through the streets of campus without being offered t-shirts, mugs and key chains by MBNA (now owned by Bank of America) marketing reps hoping to get him to open a credit card. Nearby students, noshing on turkey chili and Cool Ranch Doritos, concurred.

Me: “Are you sure that’s still happening?”
Alumnus: “Well, I can’t remember if it was this semester or last…”
Me: “You know that’s against the law now, right?”
Alumnus: “Really?”

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