CardRatings.com Educates Consumers, Grades Companies

by Jamie Walden  on Monday, Jan. 18, 2010 12:00 am  

Curtis Arnold

When he left the University of Texas at Dallas in 1992, Curtis Arnold had a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in international business and $45,000 in credit card debt.

Arnold returned home to Little Rock with what he described as the feeling of a noose around his neck.

"I for some reason had the wrong perception that I was going to be making six figures and all this stuff and knock the credit card debt out flat in no time. And that did not happen," Arnold said. "I really was grappling with the reality of that."

Ironically, his heaping pile of debt became a stepping stone to success. A year and a half ago, he sold his credit-card rating company for a price in the eight figures.

"After reality hit me, I started to take two steps back and analyze, and I started learning about credit cards from the school of hard knocks, if you will," Arnold said. "And I think sometimes that's the best teaching we can get. And I've really had a passion for consumer education ever since."

Arnold began to rummage through credit card offers, searching for beneficial and, more importantly, harmful offers to post recommendations on a basic America Online page. This was at a time before Google, which Arnolds claims exists.

"So people saw the e-mail link and they started e-mailing me their stories, saying this is helpful," Arnold said. "It became pretty therapeutic at that point."

And a fateful termination of his job at a bank may have been the push out of the nest that Arnold needed.

"I'm not a risk-taker by nature," he said.

So Arnold decided to give CardRatings.com a full-time shot. The company, founded in 1998, flourished into an operation that attracted firms with an appetite for acquisitions. In August 2008, Arnold sold CardRatings.com to QuinStreet Inc., a media and marketing firm of Foster City, Calif.

QuinStreet recently went public, filing documents with the U.S. Securities & Exchange commission that revealed that it purchased CardRatings.com for a cash payment of $10.4 million.

Arnold stayed on as editor-in-chief at CardRatings.com and has since started another educationally oriented operation, the Bill & Sharon Arnold Family Foundation, which provides college scholarships and sponsorships to arts. The foundation honors his parents, who were public school teachers for more than 40 years. The foundation's initial filing with the Internal Revenue Service showed assets of about $200,000 at the end of 2008.

 

 

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