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Weekend Think: What’s wrong about millennial credit scores

I received my first credit card when I was in college. The card came from a department store. A clerk had told me that using the store’s credit card would save me 15% on my purchase. I was a financially strapped college student, so a 15% discount sounded pretty good. Little did I know the havoc I was about to wreak on my young financial life.

Of course, I missed a payment.

Okay, maybe two.

I cancelled the card after realizing that this error had completely tanked my credit score. Since then I have only been able to qualify for a couple more credit cards after many years of being rejected by card companies.

I would like to think that I have become a more responsible adult since that first missed payment. I finished college with a finance degree, found a job as a consultant, rented four different apartments, and am now pursuing graduate studies.

But even after almost ten years, my credit score does not reflect any of this “growing up.”

Life after “credit fumbles”

Researching this, I find I am not alone. This is relatively common among millennials, of whom 68% have committed a “Credit Fumble” before they turned 30, according to a recent report by Credit Karma. The same percentage of millennials say they did not understand credit scores when they obtained their first credit card, and 75% felt that these fumbles have adversely impacted their lives.

Older generations like to roll their eyes and say that young people are just irresponsible, and that that’s why we have lower credit scores. According to a report by Experian, however, we can compare credit habits of Generation Xers in 1998 to millennials in 2015. In fact, millennials are taking out more credit for studies–and less credit for retail spending– than Gen Xers.

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