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Commonwealth Bank under fire for teaching eight-year-olds about credit cards

Consumer organisation Choice has taken aim at the Commonwealth Bank over its Dollarmites program, which is aimed at primary school children.

Choice has criticised the bank for introducing children as young as eight to the concept of credit cards, as part of a submission to a review into financial education in schools.

Choice Chief Executive, Alan Kirkland, said the young age of children being targeted by the Commonwealth Bank is concerning.

“Our concern with them is partly about how young they start doing it,” he told 3AW’s Tom Elliott.

“It’s kind of a monopoly. So, for schools that run the Dollarmites program, there’s only one bank that gets access to those kids and that’s the Commonwealth. That’s why it’s no accident that 46 per cent of us opened our first account with the Commonwealth Bank.

“Where that becomes a problem is, over time, people tend to stick with the first bank they open an account with.”

Mr Kirkland criticised the bank’s program for being too one-sided in its education.

“They had a crossword that they put out to use in schools that says ‘credit cards are a way of buying something before you’ve got the money’. Now, that’s only half the message, or even less than half the message,” he said.

“There’s absolutely a role for better financial education in schools but we’ve got to try and separate it from some of the marketing that the Commonwealth Bank, in particular, is using to sign people up at a young age.”

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Image: William West