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Percentage of College Students with a Credit Card Drops to 35%

Fewer college students are opting for credit cards. A new study from Sallie Mae showed from 2010 to 2012, the number of college students that had their own credit card dropped from 42% to 35%.

I spoke with Missouri State University incoming freshman Hannah Taylor, who is bucking this trend. Taylor said that although she didn’t have a credit card yet, she planned on getting one through the college she was attending.

“When I go to orientation, [the college] give[s] us an opportunity to sign up or get connected with [a credit card offered by the college’s sanctioned bank].” Her school partners with Missouri-based Commerce Bank. It is not uncommon for banks to partner with colleges to offer banking services to their students.

According to the same study, freshmen, like Taylor, who said she’d use the card for gas and books, are less likely to get a credit card than other students. For example, only 21% of freshmen now have credit cards compared to 60% of seniors.

The obvious cause of this downturn in credit card ownership is the CARD Act, that made it more difficult for banks to market their credit cards on campus. Although, the banks are still finding loopholes to market to students.

But another reason for this downturn in student credit card ownership may be the effectiveness of student financial education. Taylor took a required personal finance class (one semester) in high school, where she learned one important lesson about credit card use: “they told us to not use it unless absolutely necessary”.


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Last Edited: July 21, 2014 @ 10:42 pm
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a former practicing CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of FinCon, the conference and community dedicated to helping other financial influencers and brands. He created this website back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money, hold himself accountable, and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence.

PT uses Personal Capital to keep track of his financial life. This free software allows him to review his net worth regularly, analyze his investments, and make decisions about his financial future.

PT keeps a portion of his emergency fund in Betterment, the automatic investing tool that makes investing super simple. Betterment focuses on what matters most: savings rate, time in the market, investing costs, and taxes. PT recommends this service to anyone looking to get started investing for themselves.

All the content on this blog is original and created or edited by PT.


  1. krantcents1 says:

    Before a student should get a credit card, they should understand how to use it.  If they view it as an unlimited resource to do things, they are more likely to abuse it.

  2. freemoneyminute says:

    It is good to hear that credit card usage by students, typically without a job, are down.  I hope this trend does not reverse as it only sets you up to be a slave later in life.