Millennials more likely to discuss credit card debt than older adults

Most adults are tight-lipped about card debt ? more so than bankruptcy, relationships

Sabrina Karl
Personal Finance Writer
Data whiz and visual storyteller


Millennials have a reputation for over-sharing, and they’re less shy than older adults about the typically taboo topic of credit card debt. 

According to a new LendingClub survey, more than three-quarters of Americans say card debt is something they keep closely under wraps. 

The survey found only 23 percent of U.S. adults will discuss credit card debt with others, even less than the 27 percent who said they would share information about a bankruptcy. Dating, marriage and relationship issues, in contrast, felt comfortable to share among 44 percent of adults.

However, younger Americans feel less secretive about their card debt than older adults, with 28 percent of millennials (age 18-34) saying they would talk about card debt. That’s compared to sharing rates of just 19 to 21 percent for Generation X and baby boomer age groups. 

A similar study conducted by in 2013 found card debt was the No. 1 taboo topic for consumers, even when measured against other touchy subjects such as love life, salary and political and religious views. Respondents who were 18-24 at the time expressed more openness than older groups to discussing taboo topics in general. 

See related: Millennials outdoing parents, grandparents on smart money moves, More infographics 

LendingClub's survey also addressed consumers’ card debt payment habits. Across all respondents, only 40 percent said they always pay their credit card balances in full, with 12 percent reporting they never pay the full balance. 

Among those carrying balances, the debt is taking a social and emotional toll. Survey respondents with ongoing card balances were almost three times more dissatisfied with their personal life than those without card debt (31 vs. 13 percent), and also reported feeling more isolated. More than half of card debt holders (55 percent) said they don’t feel they belong to a larger community.

LendingClub's survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll among 5,006 U.S. adults age 18 or older. Administered in August 2018, the survey’s results were weighted to demographically match the general U.S. adult population and were released Oct. 11.

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Updated: 03-26-2019