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Ivanka Trump’s credit card debt is a lesson in how not to use credit cards

Ivanka Trump's credit card debt

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She’s a multimillionaire. Her husband’s a multimillionaire. Her dad’s a reported billionaire. Why, then, is first daughter Ivanka Trump swimming in credit card debt, as recently reported by news website Politico?

In the fourth quarter of 2017, the average credit card debt for a U.S. consumer was $5,626, according to credit-reporting bureau TransUnion. But an updated financial disclosure form filed with the federal government shows Ivanka Trump’s credit card debt blasts past the average American’s.

Taking a closer look at Ivanka Trump’s credit card debt

The financial disclosure form doesn’t provide a precise amount for Ivanka’s credit card debt but, rather, lists a range. And it’s an eye-opening range.

The revised form, filed in December 2017, indicates Ivanka has two Visa cards: one with debt ranging from $50,001 to $100,000, and another with debt ranging from $15,001 to $50,000. Each card carries an APR (annual percentage rate) of 13.74%, according to the form. At least that’s below the national average APR of roughly 16%.

While that’s a mountain of debt for us mere mortals, it’s thankfully not as much as Ivanka reported in her previous financial disclosure form, filed in July 2017. At that time, Ivanka had $100,001 to $250,000 in debt on one card and $15,001 to $50,000 on the other, with the same APR of 13.74%.

I must note here that Politico reported the debt for only one of Ivanka’s Visa cards (the one with a balance of $50,001 to $100,000); other media outlets have subsequently cited that information. But when I read through the disclosure forms, I clearly spotted debts for two credit cards, so I’m puzzled by the discrepancy between what’s obvious to me and what Politico apparently overlooked.

Living on borrowed money

Regardless, it’s difficult to grasp why someone who’s worth millions upon millions of dollars, who’s married to millionaire Jared Kushner and who stands to inherit perhaps billions of dollars from her father, President Donald Trump, is grappling with any credit card debt at all.

“Are the Kushners’ liquid assets so low that their lifestyle has to be paid for by borrowing at presumably outrageous rates?” Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin observed about the credit card debt.

Sure, millions of us struggle with credit card debt, but Ivanka Trump isn’t someone I’d ever have put in that group. You’d think Ivanka would be able to pay off her credit card balances in full each month, like everyone should do.

Or, in the alternative, why not take out a lower-interest loan? Oh, but wait. Ivanka and Jared have amassed overall debt of $31 million to $155 million, up from $19 million to $98 million less than a year earlier. Could it be that their loan pool has dried up?

Follow the rules, Ivanka!

Whatever the case, it seems Ivanka has no excuse to be clueless about credit card debt. Her own website features an article titled “5 Rules of Credit Cards.” In fact, the fourth rule in the article is “Be smart about payments.”

“It may seem obvious, but it must be said: We recommend that you pay off your credit card in full each month,” Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO of financial planning company LearnVest, wrote in the article. “I’ve met too many people who think carrying a balance is good for your credit score — that’s a myth!”

The LearnVest founder goes on to advise that it’s critical to never miss a credit card payment and that it’s smart to double up on monthly payments if you’re trying to whittle down debt.

“Credit card interest actually accrues daily, so making more frequent payments can save you some interest,” von Tobel wrote.

Are you paying attention, Ivanka? It’s time to follow the sound advice that appears on the website bearing your name. If you need a refresher, maybe you should call Alexa von Tobel.

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