You can offer young Americans credit, but they might not take it.
Millennials are turning away from traditional credit cards in record numbers and relying on the safety of paying as they go, according to a new study from CreditCards.com. More than a third of Americans ages 18 to 29 have never had a credit card, according to the study, which was released Wednesday. ( Tweet This ). And the financial crisis and rocky economy might have turned them off completely to the practice.
"Folks who have come of age in a horrific economy and a terrible job market are understandably skittish," said Matt Schulz, a senior industry analyst with CreditCards.com. "That skittishness may have pushed them toward debit cards and prepaid debit."
Part of the credit avoidance is certainly due to the CARD Act of 2009, which put serious limits on credit card companies' abilities to market to younger consumers and to sign them up for credit. The federal regulations require applicants under age 21 to provide proof of income or a co-signer.
Still, the average age of first-time credit card owners seems to be getting lower. Respondents over 65 said that they got their first credit card at age 32 on average, seven years older than those who are now between 50 and 64 years old. Baby boomers came of age before the rapid expansion of credit 20 to 25 years ago, Schulz said.