As soon as Josu Henriquez turned 18, he applied for a credit card. He wanted to start building his credit so he could one day finance the purchase of a car or home.
“I was told it was the only way I could start my credit in this country,” he says, having relocated to the US from El Salvador as a child.
His credit card limit was low at just $500, with a requirement to keep $250 in a savings account to use it. But over the next decade, as more offers rolled in, both his credit limits and balances ratcheted up. Henriquez’s credit card debt ballooned to over $25,000, and he eventually sought out a debt relief company for help.
“I had five credit cards at the time. Now I only have two,” he tells me. The rest were shut down in the…