Credit cards are convenient, user friendly, and at times dangerous. In this lesson students learn the joys and dangers of using credit as they help Credit, the main character in this activity, solve her credit problems.


Choice, Consumer Economics, Consumers, Credit, Decision Making, Incentive, Interest Rate, Money Management


  • Define the relationship between credit and incentives, for buyers when purchasing goods and/or services.
  • Define the relationship between interest and incentive, for borrowers when purchasing goods and/or services.
  • Analyze the pros and cons of credit card use.
  • Describe how finance charges effect the purchases of items.


credit cardsCredit cards are convenient, user friendly, and at times dangerous. In this lesson students will learn the joys and dangers of using credit as they help Credita, the main character in this activity, solve her credit problems. Today's teens are frequently offered credit cards through the mail, and the temptation to "buy now--pay later" for instant gratification, may be quite compelling. This lesson illustrates how quickly credit card purchases can create a dangerous situation for buyers.

Special note: I used a female character in this example, but the lesson could just as easily be changed to feature a male character. He could run into difficulty using his credit card to purchase automobile accessories, sporting equipment, or concert tickets.



credit cards

  1. Tell the students they are going to learn about the joys and dangers involved in the use and misuse of credit cards. They are going to meet Credita who has just received a new card from her favorite clothing store.
  2. Ask the students to define credit, finance charges, interest, credit limit, incentive and annual percentage rate (APR). Make sure the students have a good understanding of these terms.
  3. Ask students: What incentive is there for credit card providers to provide credit (lend money) to credit card users? [Credit card providers receive interest from credit card users sometimes at high percentage rates. Credit card companies can also charge an annual fee for the use of their card, and they can also charge the businesses a percentage of the cost of the goods and services that they have provided.]
  4. Distribute the handout, Q T Pi Fashions worksheet. Read or have the students read the introduction to the lesson.
  5. Have the students work individually or in pairs to complete the first balance sheet and the answers to questions 1-4.
  6. Use the Teachers Copy answer sheet in reviewing this section of the lesson
  7. Then, assign the students, individually or in pairs, to complete the second balance sheet and questions 5-8.
  8. Use the Teachers Copy answer sheet in reviewing this section of the lesson.


A special Teachers Copy of the Q T Pi Fashions worksheet has been created and may be printed out for reference use and for answers to the Q T Pi Fashions handout.
For Computation purposes:

  1. All figures are rounded to the nearest 100.
  2. The 1.75% interest and finance rate has been rounded to a .018


Either the "Conclusion" activity or any of the activities (or both) could be used as possible evaluation activities.

Teachers could also create a scenario of a credit card situation and have the students complete the activity as they did in the Q T Pi Lesson.


Ask the students to write a letter to Credita given the following: If Credita asked you for advice about the smart use of credit, what would you tell her so that she could avoid the problems she encountered during her last credit card experience? Try to use as many of the new credit terms you learned in your letter.


Using the web site within the Credit Cards page, students should find the best card for themselves. To do this they should go to the Student Card page and start looking for the best cards. Have the students select three cards they would consider. Have the students name and give the particulars of the cards, and explain why they would apply for these cards.

Return to Credit Card page to complete the on-line activities:

For additional lessons on personal finance, students may use the National Council on Economic Education's new curriculum, Financial Fitness for Life .


  • “Thank you for a well-thought out lesson. I will use it for a money management class designed for 7th and 8th graders.”

    D. Haynes   POSTED ON August 26, 2004

  • “Good lesson! I found it to be challenging and very informative for my students.”

    Tim G.   POSTED ON September 23, 2004

  • “This looks really cool.”

    Ted Capkanis   POSTED ON February 17, 2005

  • “Excellent lesson! I even used it for myself.”

    Antionette Wilcox, FL   POSTED ON March 1, 2005

  • “It happens that I have a lot of free time, which I devote to my hobbies. I could be reading clauses or looking through photos for hours, but now I spend all my time on your site!”

    Stefan Dox   POSTED ON October 20, 2006

  • “This looks awesome! I am going to try to tailor it to a 1-3 grade class.”

    Nicole M., Las Vegas, NV   POSTED ON July 22, 2010

  • “The lesson is great! I am not sure if it's me or if some of the numbers are off. In the Q T Pi Fashions lesson in June on the first table you have to figure out her payment because she has to pay 10% of her Balance and it is over her normal $100 payment. Looking at the answer key it looks like your 10% ($1108.95 x 10% = $110.90 not $110.93) is off by .03 and it is making the final answer of $998.02 for July off. Also, question #5, the very first payment looks like you have it as $110.16, which needed to be calculated again because it is over her $100 payment but 10% of $1015.98 is $101.60. So, if the first number is off that throws the entire questions off. If I am wrong about this please let me know if not could we possibly fix it? EconEdLink: We have fixed the numbers on both the student and teacher version. Thanks”

    Kim B., Lowell, MA   POSTED ON October 12, 2010

  • Review from

    Great Idea, but numbers incorrect.

    “The lesson itself was great! It helped my students learn the real cost of using credit, but some of the numbers are incorrect. I used the lesson, but made my own worksheet.”

    Tara M   POSTED ON April 15, 2010

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