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Written by Cyndie Martini
on March 12, 2019

For many millennials, the financial crisis hit just as their careers were getting underway. Their future turned bleak as jobs become scarce and housing prices and stocks plummeted. This experience left many to shy away from taking on debt, including the use of credit cards. 

Millennials still use credit cards, and this trend is picking up steam across the cohort. A 2018 NBC News/GenForward survey found that 46% of them have credit card debt. But the way they are using credit cards is more uncommon.

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996. In 2019, their ages range from 23 to 38. In this article, we'll learn about the different ways in which millennials are using credit cards.

  • Endless Checkout Options - Swipe, chip or card not present (i.e., online purchases) are how we shop with credit cards nowadays. New services such as ApplePay and GooglePay make paying from your smartphone convenient and simple. With 98% of millennials owning a smartphone, integration with these services is a must-have for any credit card merchant.
  • Experiences Vs. Products - Millennials have a preference for spending on experiences rather than products. Think of traveling instead of a highend watch or even a car. 
  • No Annual Fee - A 2018 survey by the Aite Group found that 86% of millennials prefer cards with a low or no annual fee.
  • Rewards Matter - From the same survey, 82% said that the type of rewards offered by a credit card matter.

While millennials have been tagged as a group that doesn't use credit cards, for some, the tide is changing. While the group as a whole may not hold as many credit cards as previous generations or rack up as much credit card debt, paying attention to their buying behaviors can help credit card merchants position themselves in front of millennials when it comes time to check out.


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