Big Shocker: Students Are Abusing Credit Cards

Sallie Mae‘s 2009 study of credit card use shows that students just love binging on plastic. Kids these days have more than four cards on average, and most of them carry a balance pushing $3,000. Many don’t tell their parents, and almost a fifth graduate with more than $7,000 of debt. This is how meltdowns start…

From the study:

  • Students have an average of 4.6 credit cards!
  • 84% of students have at least one credit card.
  • The average (mean) balance is $3,173, the highest ever recorded in the study’s history.
  • The median balance was $1,645 with 21% of students having between $3,000 and $7,000 in debt.
  • 39% of students already have a credit card before they arrive on campus.
  • Median debt of those students was $939, up from $373 in 2004, with only 15% having a $0 balance.
  • Students graduate with an average of $4,100 in credit card debt with almost 20% having more than $7,000 owed on credit cards.
  • A third of students rarely or never discussed credit card use with parents.
  • 60% were surprised how high their balances were, and 40% charged items knowing that they couldn’t pay for them.

College kids should have a single credit card to start building their credit history, and they should never, ever use it to purchase stuff they can’t afford.

How undergraduate students use credit cards: Sallie Mae’s national study of usage rates and trends, 2009 [Sallie Mae]
How Students Use Credit Cards [Bargaineering]
(Photo: me and the sysop)