Young people are starting to see the effects of inflation in their credit card bills.
Gen Z, or young people 25 and under, saw their credit card balance increase by 30% in the second quarter, compared to a year ago, according to credit score company VantageScore. The rest of the population saw an 11% rise in their credit card balance, per the report. VantageScore’s data comes from a random sample of 12.5 million credit files in the US.
People with low credit scores under 660 also saw a credit card balance increase by almost 25%, over double the percent for the rest of the population. For millennials, the data found that their credit card balances went up by 22% over the past year.
With inflation driving prices up for commodities like gas and food, young and low-income consumers are having a harder time paying off credit card and other bills than they were earlier in the pandemic.
During the pandemic, consumers had some cushion from stimulus checks, savings, and a pause on student loan repayments that helped them pay down their debt more, Silvio Tavares, CEO and president of VantageScore, told Insider.
VantageScorefound that the percentage of credit card loans 30 days past due is still below where it was before the pandemic, but it’s increasing, especially for Gen Z and millennials.
Reuters reported that consumer credit ratings agency TransUnion estimated the percentage of credit card delinquencies could reach 8.4% in the first quarter next year.
“This doesn’t mean the sky is falling,” Tavares said. “We just need to monitor the trend and see if it continues and spreads to other groups.”
Tavares told Reuters that some Americans are paying off less credit card debt while spending more on travel and dining.
“There are some signs that inflation has peaked and is coming down,” Tavares said.
Part of the reason Gen Z and millennials saw an increase in credit card balances, Tavares said, is because their income wasn’t increasing as fast as inflation, so they needed a way to supplement their needs.
“If inflation levels off, we won’t see balances rising as quickly,” he said. He also added that extending the pause on student loan repayments would help Gen Z and millennials save more money to pay off credit card debts.
Overall, Tavares said consumers are healthy, and credit scores are trending up, even for Gen Z and millennials.