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Give up social media for a good credit score? Millennials would

Brady Porche

Would you give up Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat for a credit score of 750? The people you’d least expect to take that trade overwhelmingly say “yes.”

According to a new study by Capital One, 90 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds would rather have excellent credit than access to their social media accounts. This contradicts two prevailing stereotypes about millennials — that they’re hopelessly addicted to social media and wary of using credit.

The surprising result, however, is emblematic of the positive view of credit held by people seeking to improve their borrowing power. In the “Capital One Credit Confidence Study,” released Oct. 20, 81 percent of respondents said they believe they are able to improve their credit. The study polled 2,300 people who are new to credit, building their score or rebuilding their credit, Capital One said in a news release.

Below are a few other interesting attitudes people have toward credit.

  • People are just as comfortable talking about their credit as they are discussing sex, God and politics. When asked which of a handful of taboo topics would be fair game to talk about with strangers, 24 percent said credit. Twenty-seven percent said religion, 26 percent said their love lives and 24 percent said politics.
  • Good credit means you’re a good person. Seventy percent of respondents said good credit is a reflection of hard work, and nearly half said your credit score is a reflection of your personal character.
  • Your credit determines your social status. Nearly two-thirds of respondents believe people with good credit get special treatment, while 55 percent said those with bad credit are treated like second-class citizens.
  • Credit is a ladder to success, but it’s no thrill ride. Capital One said the people who were surveyed used a variety of words to describe what credit means to them. Lots of them said “opportunity” (47 percent) and “flexibility” (44 percent), but few said “exciting” (18 percent). Furthermore, when asked what emoji would best describe their credit, only 11 percent said “fist pump,” compared to 32 percent for “thumbs-up” and 23 percent for “smiley face.”

The study also shows that many consumers are misinformed about how credit scoring works.

  • Nearly a third believe closing an unused card is good for your credit. Closing a card, however, can reduce the average age of your accounts, which makes up 15 percent of your credit score.
  • Slim majorities of respondents believe carrying a balance and paying your cellphone bill on time are score-building habits. Actually, it’s important to keep balances low relative to your credit limits. Meanwhile, things such as rent, utility and phone bill payments are not reported to credit bureaus, but long overdue bills can ultimately show up on your credit report.
  • More than a quarter believe checking your credit report lowers your credit score. It does not, but when a lender pulls your credit report, it results in a hard inquiry. That can temporarily lower your score by a few points.

It’s clear that many Americans place a high value on good credit and believe they can achieve it. Misinformation, however, is a real barrier to improving your credit score. If you’re new to credit, achieving an excellent score takes a little research and a lot of responsible financial behavior.

Thankfully, none of us will ever face as big a gut check as being asked to delete your Facebook page in exchange for excellent credit.

Note: Capital One’s poll was conducted online, and all respondents were screened to verify eligibility and ensure a diverse mix of credit histories. Since it is not a random scientific survey, the study does not have a margin of error calculation.

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