More than half of millennials have credit card debt, and it reflects a financial reality other generations don't face

millennials credit card debt

MStudioImages/Getty Images

Millennials with credit card debt are stressed.

Many millennials are in the red.

More than half (51.5%) have credit card debt, according to a new survey from Insider and Morning Consult. The survey polled 2,096 Americans about their financial health, debt, and earnings for its new series, "The State of Our Money." More than 670 respondents were millennials, defined as ages 23 to 38 in 2019.
Advertisement
Of those who are in credit card debt, slightly more than half (54%) owe less than $5,000 and 24% owe between $5,000 and $10,000. That means the remaining one-third owe significantly more - 18% owe over $10,000, 9% owe more than $20,000, and 4.5% owe more than $30,000.

And it's stressing them all out. Around 67% of the millennial respondents with credit card debt have a lot or some stress about it - even those who have smaller sums of debt. About 55% of those $5,000 in debt are stressed about it, compared to 82% of those $5,000 to $10,000 in the hole and 84% of those $10,000 to $20,000 in the hole.

Read more: Millennials and Gen X are both stressed, broke, and in debt - but Gen X is more worried about it
Advertisement

Living costs are outpacing income growth for millennials

These indebted millennial respondents reflect some of the financial woes facing their generation as a whole, particularly when it comes to an increasing cost of living that outpaces their income growth.

Multiple studies show that millennials have less purchasing power than previous generations did at the same age. A a 2018 report from Student Loan Hero that found that rent, home prices, and college tuition have all increased faster than incomes in the US. It doesn't help that those between ages 25 and 34 have only seen an average $29 income increase since 1974 when adjusted for inflation, according to a recent SuperMoney report that analyzed US Census Bureau data. That year, they were earning an average of $35,426. By 2017, that jumped to a mere $35,455.
Advertisement

That's way less than the inflation-adjusted income growth comparison to other age groups - $2,900 for adults ages 35 to 44 made and nearly $5,400 for those ages 45 to 54 in the same time period.

When most of a minimal income ends up on rising housing and education costs, it's easy to end up putting daily living costs on a credit card.

Generation Z from Business Insider Intelligence
Advertisement
{{}}