Entrepreneur's Sites Offer Students Tips on Good Credit -- and Credit Cards
By SCOTT CARLSON
From the issue dated July 28, 2000
However, the session wraps up with a sales pitch: "Now that you've completed our Credit Strategies Seminar, start putting all this knowledge to work for yourself and apply for a credit card!" It also offers a link to a page that gives information about how to apply for a credit card through Mr. Chiang's company.
Mr. Chiang started his marketing business as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He says he began giving informal seminars about good credit after he saw his friends begin to accumulate credit-card debt. At the end of the seminars, he offered the audience credit-card applications.
He says there's no conflict between good business and good ethics. "What's good for the consumer is not necessarily bad for business," he says, adding that he also gives students information about how to "beat the system."
For example, he tells students, they can raise their credit rating by making tiny purchases, accumulating a small monthly bill, and paying that bill before the due date. He points out that credit bureaus can't tell the difference between a $15 purchase and a $15,000 purchase. "All they know is that it's been paid on time," he says.
If his sales-and-self-help approach is part of a conscientious business ethic, it is also a shrewd marketing tactic. Mr. Chiang has persuaded several colleges to ban credit-card marketers that don't offer at least a 10-minute educational session along with their pitches. In doing so, he has effectively shut out much of his competition on those campuses.
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