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No Credit Card? No Problem, Say Millennials

If you can’t conceive of life without a credit card, you might be older than 29.

According to a new survey from CreditCards.com, more than 1 in 3 (36 percent) of millennials — people between the ages of 18 and 29 — have never had a credit card. Young adults, the poll indicates, are wary of credit cards because they came of age during the Great Recession, which brought about historic student loan debt.

“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 press release. “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.”

Many seemed to agree with Schulz’s perspective — of the 1,000 adults asked when a young adult should get his or her first credit card, the average response was age 22, and the median age was 21. One-third of those polled expressed a belief that 18-20 year-olds should have their own credit cards, while another 3 percent stated that credit card-possession ought to extend to people below the age of 18.

The 2009 CARD Act, which the report addresses, makes it difficult for Americans younger than 21 to get a credit card in their own names. It requires persons under 21 to have a job or other verifiable income source, or an adult co-signer, to qualify for a card.

Although millennials — as bore out by the survey — are the least likely age group to have cards of their own, those polled nonetheless expressed a strong belief that a person’s first credit card should come at a relatively young age. Nearly 6 in 10 (58 percent) of millennials cited age 20 as the desirable point for a first credit card, compared to only 23 percent of respondents over the age of 50 who share that belief. A small minority (3 percent) of survey respondents said people should never get credit cards.

And while millennials may be somewhat resistant to credit cards, they do seem to be open to nontraditional banking, which affords a massive potential market for alternative banking providers.

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