When the Bank of Mum and Dad Goes Bad

Can you remember when you got your first credit card?

Mine was automatically bundled into my NAB student banking package when I went to university. At the time NAB said it was a smart idea for students to have access to a ‘low-rate credit card’ for ‘emergencies’ (like bar night).

That card allowed NAB to begin building a marketing profile on me. Through the positioning of minimum repayments on my statements and online banking, they trained me to see their credit limit as my money.

Then they began bumping up my credit limit.

That’s how the game works.

Commbank are doing this right now with their latest advertising campaign, which targets young people to sign up for their ‘low-interest’ Essentials credit card … instead of going through the hassle of borrowing money from their parents.

One CBA billboard says: “Because the Bank of Mum and Dad will probably give you a lecture, and you had enough of those at uni.”

Their TV ads show millennial kids having to suck up to their parents ‒ listening to their dad’s jokes, eating their mother’s terrible cooking ‒ just so they can borrow some money. CBA’s tagline at the end of the ad says: “For when you’ve outgrown the bank of Mum and Dad.”

A spokesperson for CBA said their ads aren’t manipulative in the slightest.

In fact, they’re in it to help young people:

“We believe it’s really important to help young adults develop good financial habits, such as budgeting and managing their money wisely. As they move into full-time employment, their spending and payment habits change, and this includes using credit cards.”

That’s the corporate spin, though there’s no way they actually believe it.

It’s all just part of the game.

(To be fair, the vast majority of CBA employees are hard-working, diligent professionals who care deeply about their customers. It’s just the top brass that are knobs.)

Tread Your Own Path!