One in three millennial women are hiding their credit score, Credit Sesame survey finds
Millennial women of color are significantly outperforming their white peers
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — February 9, 2021 — Millennial women are having an especially hard time navigating the credit system, and it’s leading to feelings of shame, worry, and anger, a recent survey from Credit Sesame finds. Forty-one percent of millennial women say their credit score hurts them in life, significantly more than Americans as a whole (25%). Distrust of credit card companies, lack of credit knowledge and unhealthy relationships with credit cards among this cohort are driving a deeper wedge in the gender financial gap.
According to the research, which surveyed 5,000 adults in the United States, half (50%) of millennial women have negative feelings about their credit score and nearly a third (31%) have had a bad overall experience with credit, almost double that of Americans as a whole (18%). Nearly half (48%) of millennial women say they don’t enjoy using a credit card and nearly a third (32%) say they don’t have a healthy relationship with their credit card. A quarter (26%) of millennial women are ashamed of their credit score and a third (33%) are worried about it — 37% even try to hide their credit score from other people.
Education and understanding around credit play a critical role in the credit experiences of millennial women. More than half (55%) say they were never taught how to manage credit and over a quarter (28%) would give themselves a failing grade on credit knowledge. Credit card companies haven’t helped: 40% of millennial women don’t trust credit card companies and 36% blame credit card companies for not giving them the chance to build good credit. Nearly a third (32%) say they were misinformed or tricked in their first interaction with credit and nearly half (47%) are fearful and uncertain about the future because of their credit score (compared to 28% of Americans overall). They’re also twice as likely to have given up on improving their credit as millennial men, saying it’s a lost cause.
“I never learned how to use credit properly, which devastated my score,” said a millennial woman survey respondent. “Now that I finally understand it better, I’m working on rebuilding my credit.”
Within this cohort, women of color are outperforming their white peers: 43% of millennial women of color report having a good or excellent credit score (640-850) compared to 35% of their white peers. On the flipside, significantly more white millennial women (30%) have a poor/very poor credit score compared to millennial women of color (18%). Their feelings on the matter generally follow the scores themselves:
- Millennial women of color are more likely to say their credit score helps them (44%) than their white peers (36%).
- Millennial women of color report having a better experience with credit coverall, with 40% citing a positive experience, compared to 28% of their white peers.
- Over a quarter (27%) of white millennial women are ashamed of their score (compared to 19% of millennial women of color), about the same percent of millennial women of color (26%) who say their score makes them feel happy (compared to 14% of white millennial women).
- Over half (51%) of millennial women of color say financial services exist to help them — only 39% of white millennial women agree.
“Closing the gender credit gap starts with financial education. It’s clear we still have a long way to go when over half of millennial women admit they never learned how to manage and grow their credit in the first place,” said Shazia Virji, VP of Credit Marketplace at Credit Sesame. “When women have fair access to credit, they’re able to financially invest in their future — whether that’s securing a mortgage for their first home or refinancing their student loans at a lower interest rate. At Credit Sesame, we’re committed to closing this credit education gap and empowering women to reach their financial goals.”
Beyond their credit scores, millennial women are struggling with their personal finances overall. Two thirds (65%) of millennial women are living paycheck to paycheck, compared to 44% of Americans overall, and twice as many (24%) can’t afford to keep up with bills as the larger American population (12%). Further:
- Forty-one percent find it difficult to access credit.
- Nearly a quarter (24%) say they can’t pay down debt fast enough or keep up with interest.
- Millennial women are significantly less likely to have been pre-approved for their first credit card (20%) as their older female counterparts (31% Gen X and boomer women).
Credit Sesame conducted this research using an online survey prepared by Method Research and distributed by Dynata among n=5,000 adults in the United States. The sample was balanced by census targets for age, gender and ethnicity to be nationally representative of the US population. Data was collected from October 16 to October 30, 2020.
About Credit Sesame
Credit Sesame’s mission is to help consumers work toward financial stability and ultimately create better opportunities for themselves and their families. Strong credit health is inextricably linked to financial health and stability, and with the launch of Sesame Cash, Credit Sesame will help consumers manage both. Credit Sesame has helped millions of consumers improve their credit scores, increase their approval odds, lower the cost of credit and save money. Credit Sesame is funded by leading venture capital firms and strategic investors, including Menlo Ventures, Inventus Capital, Globespan Capital, IA Capital Groups, NortonLifeLock, Capital One Ventures, and Stanford University, among others. Credit Sesame currently operates in the U.S. and Canada. For more information on Credit Sesame, visit www.creditsesame.com and follow on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.