Credit Card Ownership by High School Seniors

Scott, R. H., Jr. (2010). Credit Card Ownership Among American High School Seniors: 1997-2008. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 31, 151-160.

Brief Description: High school is when many students get their first credit cards. Jump$tart for Financial Literacy has tested the personal financial knowledge of high school students from across the U.S. since 1997. Using data from the Jump$tart surveys, this study compared the characteristics of various groups of high school students with and without credit cards. Students with credit cards were less financially literate than those without credit cards, and students with credit cards in their own names were almost twice as likely to work for money during the school year.

Implications: High school students often lack the personal finance education and decision making skills necessary to manage credit well. Over the past decade these surveys have shown that most American high school students are financially illiterate—and the problem is getting worse. Rather than improving financial management skills, having credit cards may make high school students poorer money managers. Results from this study help make a case for improved financial education and training, and public policy changes that limit the pervasive issuance of credit cards to high school students.