Great Recession left Millennials scared of credit cards, survey finds


More than a third of millennials — a generation shaped by the worst economic collapse in decades — have never used a credit card, according to a new report by

“Millennials have come of age in the Great Recession, and the really awful job market that goes along with it,” said Matt Schulz, senior analyst at, a division of North Palm Beach-based Bankrate.

Many millennials have opted instead to use prepaid cards or debit cards — which come with neither the pitfalls nor benefits associated with credit cards.

How will millennials’ reluctance to use credit cards now affect their ability to borrow later in life? That depends, said Jeff Scott, spokesman for Fair Isaac, which produces the widely used FICO credit scores.

“There are so many factors that it’s impossible to give a general rule of thumb,” Scott said. “The best advice is to pay all your bills on time every month.”

Building a credit history helps boost your FICO score. But taking out credit before you’re able to manage it will tank your score.

For a consumer-driven economy that’s fueled in large part by car loans, mortgages and credit card purchases, a generation’s changing habits could create sweeping change.

“One of the big unanswered questions around this is will millennials, as they age, move toward credit cards?” Schulz said. “Or is this more of a generational shift?” notes that it’s not as easy for young millennials to get credit cards as it was for older millennials and Gen X, whose members were wooed by relentless marketing efforts. The 2009 CARD Act, which limited marketing to young people, requires consumers younger than 21 to show proof of income, or to have an adult co-signer.

The survey also finds a sharp divide between rural and urban/suburban Americans. Just 46 percent of country folk say someone should get their first credit card before age 25, compared to 70 percent of urban dwellers. And 9 percent of rural Americans say you should never sign up for a credit card, compared to only 2 percent of city folk.


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