1 Generation Less Reliant on Credit Cards Than the Rest

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Woman with credit card
Milan Ilic Photographer / Shutterstock.com

Today’s youngest generation of adults, the millennial generation, is the least likely to rely on credit cards when spending, according to LendingTree, an online loan marketplace.

LendingTree’s recent survey of more than 3,100 Americans found that millennials have the lowest credit card ownership rate of the four generations surveyed, while the oldest of those generations — the so-called “silent generation” — has the highest rate:

  • Millennial generation (born 1980-1997): 61.3 percent said they own at least one credit card
  • Generation X (born 1965-1979): 79.2 percent
  • Baby boomer generation (born 1946-1964): About 88.7 percent
  • Silent generation (born 1925-1945): About 96.5 percent

Doug Lebda, founder and chief executive of LendingTree, says in a news release that millennials may be less likely to own credit cards as a result of lasting scars from the recession of 2007-2009, which millennials experienced at a relatively young age.

It also could have to do with other economic burdens that millennials face, such as student debt and a historically weak job market, Lebda says:

“So their lower reliance on credit cards could be seen as a positive indicator of their fiscal responsibility.”

Millennials were also the least likely to say they felt they need credit cards, with only about 29 percent agreeing that credit cards are “pretty much required today.”

Millennials were second-most likely to pay off their balance in full each month, with members of the silent generation beating them by less than 1 percentage point. (Gen Xers were worst about paying off their balances in full each month, and about paying only the minimum each month.)

Lebda states:

“Using credit cards as a primary form of payment absolutely has its benefits, as long as the card user is responsible in managing their credit. While it may be surprising to see that the conservative Silent Generation is the age group with the most credit card dependency, they also have the proper cash flow and financial discipline to support the behavior, getting the most benefit out of credit card perks and rewards.”

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