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Who in their right mind would sign up for a credit card that carries an annual interest rate of nearly 80%?

A lot of people, apparently.

First Premier Bank launched a credit card with a heart-stopping 79.9% interest rate as an option for people with bad credit. Amazingly, the bank says, the card was very popular and people quickly maxed out their balance.

The bank eventually dropped the rate to 59.9% in order to make the best profit. "We also tested it at 23%, 33%, 45%," First Premier CEO Miles Beacom told the Examiner, "but 59.9% is the one that shows the best performance and where the organization can market the product."

"Since then," CNN notes, "nearly 700,000 people have signed up for the card -- and more than half of them carry a monthly balance."

Not only that, but customers keep coming to First Premier to sign up for the ludicrously high-rate credit card. According to the Examiner, the bank currently serves 3 million customers nationwide and receives between 200,000 and 300,000 card applications every month. (Because Congress stepped in last year with the so-called Card Act, the bank is only able to open about 50,000 accounts each month.)

So who should be at fault in this real-life scenario: the credit card company trying to make money, or the consumer continuing to dig themselves into a poor-credit hole?

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