According to recent data, the global average of people aged 15+ who have a credit card is 19.28%1. Northwestern Europe is home to 8 of the top 10 global Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) markets2. Credit card debt in the US is the highest in the world3, with an average cardholder debt of $5,111 in 20203, an average US household paying ~$1,300/month in interest3. On a macro level, an increase in the household debt-to-income ratio helps economic growth in the short run4, but in 3-5 years, those benefits reverse4, and the risks of financial ruin rise4. Banks use BNPL cardholders for additional cash at every step, often without warning, using questionable practices: annual charges, late fees, fees for exceeding credit limit or overseas exchange, etc5.
Citibank holds the majority of America's credit card debt ($146.22bn) with 95.4M active cardholders6. Interest rates on credit cards peaked in 2019, giving $179 bn in profits to banks like Citi making it the most profitable year on record while pushing outstanding card debt to $880 bn7. Wall Street analysts see Citigroup’s profit-driven lending practices as potentially leading to a recession8. For instance, despite a slow economy in 2019, Citi was pushing zero-interest balance transfers (a type of transfer used for bad credit9) to low-income borrowers who are unable to pay off existing debt, yet end up taking on fresh debt8. Citi allows borrowers to have multiple cards, with only 8 days required between getting one approved and applying for the next10. Many Citi credit cards and store cards are available to people with less than 3 years of credit history11. In 2020, Citi was one of the banks to proactively inflate credit lines without consent7. In 2015, Citi was made to pay $770M in fines and refund for deceptive card practices12, & in 2018, Citi paid $335M to US customers, and $4.2M again in 2021 to settle interest overcharges in 5 US states13.
Citibank continues to endanger people’s financial future with its lending practices.
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