SALARIES / APR. 25, 2015
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One-third of Millennials Have Never Had a Credit Card

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When you’re standing in line at a Starbucks, eating lunch with your colleagues and observing certain shoppers at stores, you will likely notice that millennials are quite in love with their credit cards, much like their older counterparts. But a new study suggests that’s not exactly a correct assumption.

See Also: Millennials More Educated But Less Employable Than Generation X

According to a new CreditCards.com report, 36 percent of United States millennials - an 18-to-34 age demographic - have never owned a credit card. It’s a premise that could certainly generate a lot of sympathy considering this sort of impetuous behavior has prompted millions of consumers to be stuck with thousands of dollars of credit card debt.

The study also looked at the appropriate age to apply for and receive a credit card in their own name: the average age respondents cited was 22, while the median age was 21. One-third of American survey participants said those between 18 and 20 should maintain their own credit cards, while three percent believe it’s perfectly fine for anyone under 18 to get one.

"Millennials’ financial views were forged during the Great Recession and in the apocalyptic job market that they and their friends have faced. That skittishness has pushed them away from credit cards towards debit and prepaid cards," said Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com’s senior analyst, in a statement. "As their careers advance and the economy continues to improve, I expect millennials to transition to credit cards in search of greater rewards and consumer protections."

Furthermore, the survey looked at the behaviors, attitude and demographics pertaining to credit card usage. Ostensibly, nearly half (47 percent) of credit card customers attained their first card before 21, and more than two-thirds (68 percent) signed up for a card before 25.

The study did reveal a disconnect between rural and urban/suburban Americans: just 46 percent of rural residents believed a person should become a credit card holder before 25, compared to the strong majority (70 percent) of urban and suburban residents. Meanwhile, nine percent of rural Americans said individuals should never sign up for a credit card ever, which is higher than the two percent of suburban and urban dwellers.

Amy Hubble, a financial planner based in Oklahoma City, told USA Today that this simply may be a matter of millennials practicing caution, a characteristic that the average person certainly wouldn’t identify any young person with.

"Cash has always been king for Millennials, and they’re often extremely reluctant to invest or otherwise leverage their precious savings," averred Hubble. "We grew up in a world where we were always on the defensive when it came to strangers, cyber-scams, or ’too good to be true’ sales pitches, so often the eight credit card offers you receive in the mail every day have begun to fall into that category of ’junk to be ignored.’"

Millennials Are Actually Savers? 

Indeed, this line of thinking leads into another important report authored by the AARP, which concluded that U.S. millennials are spending less money and saving more for a rainy day. 

The report compiled a number of studies, including a Federal Reserve paper that found millennials favored using cash and mimicked the behavior of their grandparents: saving money instead of investing in the stock market, even if they had a huge pile of disposable cash.  

"Many, in low-wage starter jobs, don’t want to risk their meager savings in the market. But even if they had a sudden windfall, only 12 percent would invest the money because of a distrust of the stock markets and lack of investing knowledge," AARP stated. 

Although consumer borrowing is on the rise again, it may appear that a growing number of millennials would prefer to opt out of accumulating debt and only spending money they have. Plus, as the Washington Post suggested last month, there is a trend for millennials to capture experiences and moments instead of buying more stuff like their preceding generations. 

See Also: 6 Signs You’re on the Verge of Making a Terrible Money Choice

It just goes to show that no matter how much we think we know about millennials, we know next to nothing about this tech-savvy, latte-sipping, beard-sporting, ironic t-shirt-wearing generation. 

Are you a millenial? What are your financial habits? Are you cautious or just reckless? Your thoughts and comments below please...

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