Declined! Millennials Say 'No, Thanks' to Plastic

Declined! Millennials Say 'No, Thanks' to Plastic

Despite the glittery appeal of airline miles and points you can redeem at fancy restaurants, credit cards are falling out of favor with younger consumers.

At least that’s what a new survey by seems to suggest. According to the research, as many as 63% of Millennials (ages 18 to 29) don’t own a single credit card, compared to just 35% of adults over 30.


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Compare that to 2012, when only 16% of people ages 18 to 29 didn't hold a credit card, according to other research.

What’s behind the trend? Jeanine Skowronski, an analyst at, cites a number of factors. For one thing, having come of age during the Great Recession, Millennials may not want to repeat the previous generation’s unhealthy reliance on debt. Many young consumers are also bogged down by massive student loans and are disinclined to incur any more debt.

Meanwhile, in an effort to protect young consumers from high interest and fees, the CARD Act of 2009 made it harder for those under 21 to open credit cards.

The new research also suggests that Millennials may be painfully aware of the challenges that accompany credit use. According to the survey, only 40% of Millennials who have credit cards pay off their entire balance every month, compared to 53% of adults over 30. In fact, while just 1% of all consumers say they often miss a credit card payment entirely, 3% of Millennials admit to doing so.

Interestingly, a recent survey found that Millennials are also wary of using cash, especially for small purchases. Instead, it seems they rely primarily on debit, which puts a limit on their spending and allows them to track their purchases.

Some media outlets point to Millennials’ credit aversion as a mistake, since they’re missing out on the chance to build a credit history. Ultimately, though, the only person who can decide whether you’re ready to use a credit card responsibly is you. Learn more about the differences between debit and credit—and when to use each—here.


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