What your generation says about how you pay, what kind of card you want

Boomers use credit cards more than Millennials do, but Millennials are more likely to use Venmo. Meanwhile, Generation Z is shaping up to be particularly rewards motivated, while their elders are more focused on low interest and credit-building.

That’s according to an August 2017 consumer survey from First National Bank of Omaha, which looked at how different generations use cards and payment tech. The online survey polled 1,000 participants spanning the United States.

Venmo is for the young

Peer-to-peer payment/mobile payment services like Venmo, Apple Pay and PayPal seem to appeal more to Millennials (born 1981-1998) than they do to Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and Generation X (born 1965-1980).

When asked how likely they’d be to use one of these services, the generations responded accordingly:

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While large chunks of each generation never use these payment methods, a larger piece of the Millennial pie says it uses them “always” or “often.”

All generations prefer debit to credit – nobody prefers mobile payments

Millennials’ anxiety about credit (and preference of debit cards) has been deeply studied and frequently surveyed. The FNBO survey demonstrates that all generations actually prefer debit over credit as a payment method – but Millennials and Generation X prefer it more.

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Boomers also tend to favor cash more than their younger counterparts.

Meanwhile, nobody favors mobile payments yet.

“We found it interesting that Venmo and Apple Pay, while being more commonly used by younger generations, are not as widely used as we had expected they would be,” says Kevin Langin, senior director and spokesperson at First National Bank of Omaha.

Gen Z wants rewards – Millennials want help

Some of the most interesting generational differences appeared when surveyors asked respondents what they valued most in a credit card.

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While the Boomers and Gen X are all about snagging the lowest interest rate, Millennials are looking for cards the let them build (or rebuild) their credit. And there’s a reason for that.

“Millennials have worse credit on average than other generations,” Langin says. “This can often be attributed to high student loan rates, and due to the fact that they face higher housing costs.”

Surveyors also asked Generation Z, which is just entering the legal age for acquiring credit, what they want in a credit card. Their priorities? Rewards. Cash back and points/miles are of equal interest. As more of Generation Z enters the credit market, issuers will need to appeal to them.

“We anticipate that there will be a shift in credit card benefits, and many companies may begin to offer cards that give cardholders the option for cashback as well as rewards, to help meet the demands of consumers,” Langin says.

Currently, most cards generally fall into either cash back or points/miles. But some cards on the market provide a multitude of redemption options that span the spectrum from cash to travel rewards.

 
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