New Survey Reveals Millennial Spending Habits — 69% Consider Cash Back Rewards ‘Essential’

Shot of a beautiful young woman using a cellphone and credit card at home.
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New research from Citibank has been released following a survey of 1,009 U.S. adults aged 25-34 between May 5 and May 13, using Harris Poll via an email invitation and an online survey. In true millennial fashion, the survey showed that 82% of millennials’ spending varies month-to-month based on their shifting interests and priorities. Additionally, 87% expressed a desire for a credit card that does the work for them in order to maximize credit card rewards based on their changing spending patterns.

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Most credit card companies have fairly rigid rewards structures. Some credit cards are more beneficial for travel, giving double or triple points for purchases made on airfare, hotels, and restaurants. Other cards are more geared towards the day-to-day, with double point systems for purchases made at grocery stores and pharmacies.

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According to the millennials surveyed, more than a third said their spending has changed over the last year and their current credit cards don’t reward their new spending patterns. With millennials coming back into the spending economy, 66% are most looking forward to traveling, 45% are most excited about going to a restaurant, 31% are looking forward to a concert, 25% are gearing up for a party and 17% can’t wait to get back to fitness classes. The survey also showed that 69% of those surveyed said that getting cash back is “absolutely essential or very important to them when applying for a new credit card.”

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See: What Millennials Can Learn From Gen X’s Money Mistakes
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The shift in rewards programs suggests that cardmembers now hold the upper hand in the credit marketplace. Millennials with pent-up cash who are ready to get back to work could mean that credit card companies across the marketplace will need to start doling out better incentives to keep millennials coming back for more.

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Last updated: July 26, 2021

About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 

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