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Credit knowledge: Gen Z vs. Millennials

Credit knowledge

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Credit Sesame looks at credit knowledge and attitudes for Gen Z and Millennials in December 2023.

Gen Z is the population born between 1997 and 2012 now aged 12 to 26 years. Millennials are people born between 1981 and 1996 now aged 27 to 42 years. The Credit Sesame survey looked at a subset of Generation Z born between 1997 and 2006 (18-26 years) and a group of Millennials. Official estimates of the population for these generations vary somewhat. We have used population data from the US census for 2022 to estimate of the number of people in each generation.

Gen Z and Millennial population estimates

GenerationAge range surveyedBorn betweenUS population %US population
Gen z18 to 26 years1997 and 200612%40 million
Millennials27 to 42 years1981 and 199622%72 million
Population data sourced from the US Census for 2022

Credit knowledge comparison Millennials vs. Gen Z

Highlights of the survey indicate that Gen Z has the edge over Millennials for credit and financial savvy.

Credit knowledge Gen Z vs. Millennials

Credit building

Two-thirds or 67% (26.8 million) of Gen Z started credit building between the ages of 15 and 20 years, compared to one-third or 37% (26.64 million) of Millennials.

First bank account

Eighty-four percent (33.6 million) of Gen Z opened their first bank account between the ages of 18-20 years compared to 46 million 64% (46 million) of Millennials.

First credit card

Sixty-four percent (26.6 million) of Gen Z got their first credit card between the ages of 18-20 years compared to 37% (26.64 million) of Millennials.

Checking credit score

Twenty-eight percent (11.2 million) of Gen Z believe checking your credit score affects it compared to 37% (26.64 million) of Millennials.

Average US credit score

Nine percent (3.6 million) of Gen Z guessed correctly the range including the average US credit score, compared to 11% (7.92 million) of Millennials.

Gen Z vs. Millennials credit knowledge summary

Overall, Gen Z has a head start on credit building and credit knowledge, with more starting to build credit earlier, including opening their first credit card. It is encouraging that the majority of younger people in the United States understand the importance of credit and start earlier than their Millennial predecessors. It is worrying that nearly 40 million adults in the United States believe that checking your credit score affects your score. Monitoring your credit and checking your credit score is more important than ever and does not affect your score in any way.

Survey methodology

This random double-opt-in survey of 500 Gen Z and 500 millennials was commissioned by Credit Sesame between Dec. 22 and Dec. 28, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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Disclaimer: The article and information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Katrina Boydon
Katrina Boydon has been consulting in web content and media operations for over 20 years. When she’s not strategising, devising topics, editing or managing distribution, she likes to put fingers to keyboard and create original articles on a range of topics.

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