The Secret History Of Credit Cards

PBS has joined forces with the New York Times to reveal, “The Secret History Of Credit Cards.” The show airs tonight at 9pm EST.

    “The industry’s most profitable customers, the ones being sought by creative marketing tactics, are the “revolvers:” the estimated 115 million Americans who carry monthly credit card debt.

    “Ed Yingling, incoming president of the American Bankers Association, tells FRONTLINE that revolvers are “the sweet spot” of the banking industry. This “sweet spot” continues to grow as the average credit card debt among American households has more than doubled over the past decade. 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.”

You can also watch in full online, here. (Thanks to Triteon!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. FLConsumer says:

    “Tonight” in which cities? Tampa has 2 PBS affilliates, both are airing total shit programming tonight.

    WEDU (2): 9pm-10pm: American Soundtrack: Doo Wop’s Best on PBS — Full-length performances from “Doo Wop 50”, “Doo Wop 51” and “Rock, Rhythm, & Doo-Wop.” Music Special

    WUSF (16): 8pm-9:30pm: The Glenn Miller Spectacular — Big-band hits include “In The Mood,” “Sunrise Serenade,” “Tuxedo Junction.” Music Special

    WUSF (16): 9:30pm-11pm: Walking the Bible (Highlights Special) — Author Bruce Feiler visits locations in the Old Testament.

  2. FLConsumer says:

    Just did a search through my SageTV server, nothing on PBS over the next two weeks called “Frontline” nor anything on PBS over the next two weeks on credit cards for the two Tampa PBS stations.

  3. pantsonfire says:

    Is this the same episode they ran in 2004?

  4. dataflux says:

    According to the first video clip on their website, the program is from/first aired 23 November 2004.

  5. brokenboy says:

    Yeah, I bet it’s a local thing. This is an old Frontline from 2004. It re-aired here a few weeks ago, so it’s probably just hitting another local market again.

  6. DaveB says:

    This is a repeat but still a great show, don’t miss it.

  7. weave says:

    They love revolvers and hate those who pay off every month. That is one reason why I use American Express almost exclusively. It’s expected to pay it off in full every month, which I do. I spent my second 20 years of my life in heavy credit card debt. I finally paid them all off around 40 and have been debt free (except for the house) ever since.

    It was a rough few years of sacrifices to get that debt paid off, but now I have a healthy amount of disposable income. It’s amazing how much debt and interest payments consume of one’s income.

  8. Triteon says:

    Sorry– my internet server has been f’ed up all night so I would have updated. It is/was the same 2004 show but is still as relevant now as it was then.
    Certain PBS affils may be in pledge mode this week, so I do apologize. My local PBS (the wonderful KETC) is running it and it was also listed in USA Today.

  9. Morton Fox says:

    Makes sense. After all, they only make a few percent on people who pay off their credit cards in full every month, compared to the obscene interest rates they extract from people who carry a balance.

  10. I’ve been trying to get a copy of Maxxed Out for a few months now. It’s a documentary similar to this frontline story. Has anyone seen it?

  11. Pelagius says:

    None of the DC area PBS stations are showing this tonight. Good thing it’s FREE and ONLINE.

  12. Juancho says:

    Most all of PBS Frontline is online, has been for a few years. They are uniformly excellent. Not ashamed to admit that is how I watched their expose on the porn industry, which was just scary.

  13. RandomHookup says:

    Let’s not forget to give a big thank you to all those ‘revolvers’ who make it possible for many of us to get a free ride every month by simply paying our bills on time.

  14. thrillhouse says:


    I’d love to see Maxed Out as well. It looks like Scurlock is still just doing screenings and film festivals.

    Here’s to hoping that they get some distrobution soon.

  15. olegna says:

    You can (and have been able to) watch it here online: