Millennials go mobile to manage their money – and check their credit scores

Majorities of young adults use their phones to pay bills, deposit checks, send money

Sabrina Karl
Personal Finance Writer
Data whiz and visual storyteller


Nine out of 10 Americans aged 18-37 use their smartphones to look up personal finance information, and 8 in 10 make financial transactions with their devices. Yet when given a financial literacy quiz, millennials answered less than half of the questions correctly.

The findings come from a new report by the TIAA Institute and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) at George Washington University. The study found that a vast majority of millennials use their phones to compare prices (82 percent), and two-thirds (67 percent) track spending on their phones.

About half of the respondents (47 percent) said they frequently or sometimes check their credit scores with their phones, with women edging out men on this behavior (51 percent for female millennials versus 44 percent for males). 

The study also showed that the wealthiest millennials (those making $100,000 or more per year) were less likely than millennials who make less than $100,000 to check their credit scores on their phones. Only 39 percent of the former group did so, while mobile score-checking among the other income groups ranged from 50-55 percent. 

See related: Less-than-stellar credit can drive up your car insurance rate 

In terms of making actual financial transactions, almost 7 in 10 millennials (68 percent) said they pay bills with their smartphones, 58 percent deposit checks and 53 percent send or receive money with their devices.

Yet when scored on a financial literacy quiz included in the survey, younger millennials (age 18-27) answered just 41 percent of the questions correctly and older millennials (age 28-37) answered 47 percent. That compares to a score of 49 percent for Generation X respondents and 55 percent for baby boomers.

The TIAA Institute and GFLEC conducted their study in January 2018, among 1,007 U.S. adults age 18 and older. Weighted to reflect national population demographics, the findings were released Sep. 15.

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Updated: 02-17-2019