Vintage Badvertising: Credit-Shaming Wives

Cristen Conger

Look at that housewife with her downcast eyes. She knows her roast beef always turns out too dry. Her driving? Abysmal. And then there's her relationship with money. Try as she might to balance the household checkbook, she's just terrible with finances. In her pea brain, money is just funny-smelling, doodled-on paper that her husband, Harold, toils away at The Office to make. So it's really a good thing Harold (who constantly reminds her of what a dimwit she is) found a credit card that recognizes how women and cash are match made in fiscal hell.

As the ad's fine print explains: "Nobody but Mr. Harold Karp can use Mr. Harold Karp's Marine Midland Master Charge card. Not a burgler. Not even his wife..." (Is there really a difference between the two?)...Just go into one of our branches, any one, and have your picture taken. And if your wife gets upset she can have her picture taken too."

How generous! Men, if your wives pitch a fit, they can have their own credit card, too. But only if it's a real cry-fest; giving a wife her own credit card should really only happen as a last resort because it could end up costing you dearly.

Oh wait, what's that? Women actually aren't terrible with credit? 2013 data from Experian found:

In some respects men and women are nearly equal when it comes to handling credit. They have almost identical average credit scores -- women 675, men 674 -- and use almost the same amount of their available credit: Men use 31 percent, women 30 percent. But women carry less overall debt. An average man has $26,227 in debt from credit cards, personal loans and auto loans, compared to a $25,095 average for a woman.

Mr. Harold Karp still isn't taking any chances.