If your credit card hasn’t seen any action in months, you might have more in common with our neighbours to the South than you think.
According to an analysis by The New York Times, while overall credit card usage in the United States is on the up, the same can’t be said for the millennial demographic.
In fact, the number of people under 35 with credit card debt is at a nearly 30-year low.
Researchers attribute the drop in credit card debt to two main reasons: the financial crisis of the mid-00s has made many young people wary of taking on too much debt, and new regulations have limited how much credit card companies market to college students.
“It’s pretty clear that young people are not interested in becoming indebted in the way that their parents are or were,” payment industry expert David Robertson told the New York Times.
While it might be easy to suggest millennials just aren’t that into credit cards, that’s simply untrue.
For instance, here in Canada, only 1.9% of people aged 18-29 don’t have a credit card. A little over a quarter (26.85 per cent) have more than three cards.
One potential cause for the difference? Direct payment methods like Venmo and Apple Pay that bypass credit and debit cards haven’t quite taken off North of the Border. A recent study by Accenture showed that only one in 10 Canadian consumers uses one of these systems regularly.
According to the 2015 North American Consumer Digital Payments Survey, 40 per cent of Canadians are aware their smartphones can double as a wallet. By comparison, 53 per cent of Americans are conscious of mobile payment systems. Furthermore, only 10 per cent of those Canadians use one of these systems as least once a week, compared to 19 per cent of consumers in the U.S.
Canada also bounced back a lot faster than the States after the recession, and government intervention made it cheaper for Canadians to borrow money. Hence, more credit card users.
But at the end of the day, when it comes to credit card use, how we use them is a lot more important than why. Sure, while hearing that U.S. millennials’ credit card debt is the lowest it’s been in 30 years sounds like a great motivation to cut up your cards, they are not the harbinger of all money evils. Credit cards, when used responsibly, are a great way to build up credit which can help you do lots of fun adult things like securing a mortgage or leasing a car. Having a good credit score also means you’ll benefit from lower interest rates.
So the moral of this story? Don’t ditch the plastic – just remember to pay your balance off at the end of the month and everything will be A-okay.