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Opinions on credit cards vary from generation to generation. And that includes Gen Z. Learn about some of these generational differences, including Gen Z’s relationship with credit cards, the average number of cards in their wallets, and more.

A young, Gen Z woman is using her credit card to make a payment on her phone.

When it comes to credit cards, each generation generally views them in their own way—with preferences shaped by their age, experiences, and financial situations. Baby Boomers are different from Generation X, who are different from Millennials. And the same applies to Generation Z.

Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z is still on the young side. But that doesn’t mean they’re not old enough to have developed their own credit card opinions, needs, and habits.

A survey conducted by The Ascent asked members of each generation about their preferences around credit cards, and here are some of the key Gen Z takeaways.

Gen Z’s Relationship With Credit Cards

Age has an impact on Gen Z’s relationship with credit cards.

One area where you see this impact is in their reasoning for opening credit cards. When asked what prompted them to search for their last credit card, 40% of Gen Z respondents said it was to build credit. This makes sense considering the average credit score for younger people is generally lower because they have shorter payment and credit histories than their older counterparts.

Also, alarmingly, 44% of Gen Z respondents said they have maxed out at least one credit card. While that is a high number, perhaps it can be explained by the lower credit limits that may come along with a first credit card. If a card has a low limit, then all it may take is one major purchase to max it out.

Average Number of Credit Cards for Gen Z

While the average number of credit cards per American is three cards, Gen Z doesn’t carry as many—averaging two credit cards.

One explanation for this could be, again, that age thing. Gen Z is much younger than the others, with the oldest members only in their mid-20s. So that means less time to accrue cards.

Most Popular Type of Credit Card for Gen Z

There are many different types of credit cards on the market—and Gen Z had a clear preference on which type they prefer: cash back credit cards.

Card Type

Gen Z

Cash back


No annual fee


Balance transfer


Low interest






What Gen Z Wants in a Credit Card

When it comes to what Gen Z wants in a credit card, 28% said they prefer no-annual-fee credit cards. This was more than any other generation besides Baby Boomers.


Gen Z

No annual fee


Low interest rate


Good rewards program


High credit limit


Widely accepted card issuer


Insurances or protections offered


Introductory offer/welcome bonus


Recognized card issuer




Bottom Line

While each individual is different, the opinions and needs of credit cards—shaped by life experiences, finances, and economic factors—vary from generation to generation. And, despite being on the young side, Gen Z is no different.

Being relatively “new to the game,” Gen Z tends to prioritize building credit as opposed to things like travel perks. This makes sense considering the age range of Gen Z. Perhaps as they get older, and have more established financial situations, they may increasingly take advantage of the other credit features the market offers that are currently not as important to them now.

About the author:

Marc Klein

With his eyes set on becoming the next great ad man (at least until his comedy writing career took off), Marc earned his journalism degree and went straight into advertising for various gaming and tourism clients. He later expanded his credentials to include public affairs and communications work for several environmental science organizations before returning to his marketing roots. A lifelong scholar with recent studies in strategic communication, Marc enjoys tying humor into his writing and simplifying complex financial subjects into engaging and easy-to-digest content for a wide variety of audiences.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified tax advisor, attorney or financial advisor. Readers should consult with their own tax advisor, attorney or financial advisor with regard to their personal situations.