We’re entering into a new world.
ROCHESTER, New York- “So this means that I can’t rent a car?”
“Yes, that is correct.”
I was standing at Budget’s booth in the Rochester airport trying to pick up the car that I had reserved. I was outright refused service.
I can no longer rent cars in the USA. I used to be able to. I used to rent them all the time, but I can’t rent them anymore. I am part of America’s new underclass: the credit-less.
I can’t rent cars in the USA because I don’t have a credit card. I have debit cards, I have prepaid cards, I have a Paypal card, I have an Uncle Milton’s ant farm club card, but I don’t have a credit card. I don’t have a credit card because I don’t want one. I prefer to make money first and only then will I buy something, which seems to be a rather novel position. Why would I want to pay someone else money so I can buy something before I have the money? It makes no sense to me.
In my previous 36 years of existence, credit cards were always optional — they were a personal choice based on consumer preference — but today that is no longer the case. Today you need a credit card to rent a car, as many rental car companies no longer accept other forms of payment, and this is a trend that is probably going to grow in the future. I can see a day very soon that I will need to have a credit card to buy a plane ticket, rent an apartment, book a hotel room, use AirBnb, pay for utilities, have internet, sign your kids up for a school, enroll in university, get a job (???) — to basically economically function in the United States of America.
While an argument can be made that the rental car companies want security against you totaling their cars, the obvious rebuttal is that I imagine that few people have credit limits on a single card high enough to pay for a new car (not to mention how much of that credit limit the user has already used up). For all practical purposes a credit card is just as insecure for the rental company as a debit card. There seems to be something much larger at play here: credit score being used to rank people as desirable or undesirable. It’s a way of forcing more people into debt — into indentured servitude to an ever more refined group of corporations who are rapidly acquiring vast networks that contain just about everything.
As far as my case goes, this isn’t just a matter of me sucking it up and getting with the times and just getting a credit card. I couldn’t get a credit card even if I wanted one. I have no credit. If a credit score could be below zero, that’s where mine would be (to get technical, below 300). To show how non-existant my credit is, I was once denied a Kohl’s card.
I’m not going to go into why I have no credit here …
But I will say that I’m part of the new underclass of America: people with no credit.
I have money, I can afford anything that I want, but this is all being rendered moot as I have no credit. As I stood in front of the car rental desk in Rochester the wad of cash that I had in my hand was a good as bundle of discarded candy wrappers.
It is getting to the point where I can’t function in the USA — I wouldn’t be able to live a normal life there even if I wanted to.
I believe this is by design. In China, a social credit system is being created where people are ranked according to the degree to which they are viewed as politically, socially, and economically on-point by the Communist Party. In the USA, we are ranked according to the degree to which we are on-point with the corporations. In the end the systems are very similar.
I know that this will not end with car rentals … My days of being able to exist as a normal person in the USA are just about over. Credit scores have become far more than just a demarcation of one’s proclivity for paying back loans: it’s a social ranking system. It’s a way of determining who obeys and who doesn’t, who is safe and who isn’t.
Those who fall off to the wayside of this system are simply fucked. They are the new underclass.
I’m part of the new American underclass.
About the Author: VBJ
I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. VBJ has written 3657 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
VBJ is currently in: Astoria, New York
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