More college students using credit cards responsibly, despite COVID

This year’s college students entered their fall semesters in a much different world from last year’s, and some effects – positive ones – are showing up in students’ credit card behaviors and plans.

College students' financial habits in the pandemic

In a new poll by AIG and EVERFI, more than four in 10 U.S. 2020-2021 college students (41%) reported feeling more anxious about the current school year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with almost a third (32%) specifically indicating it has placed extra financial stress on their family.

Either despite this or as a result of it, a larger share of this year’s students are exhibiting positive credit card behaviors and plans, and other constructive financial habits, than reported by last year’s 2019-2020 students.

For instance, while 42% of students a year ago said they were paying more than the required minimum on their credit cards every month, 57% report they are doing so this year.

See related: How to save money for college in the pandemic

Plans for the coming year are also in their focus, with 71% of this year’s students saying they plan to make every card payment on time in the next year, and 61% indicating they plan to pay off their full balance every month. Last year, only 60% and 52%, respectively, reported the same.

Beyond card management, three-quarters of this year’s students (75%) said they currently stop spending when their cash is running low. That’s compared to 64% indicating this last year. And a similar share (72%) said they are checking their bank balances regularly, while only 65% of the previous year’s students reported this.

AIG and EVERFI’s survey was fielded from late August through late September 2020, among a nationally representative sample of almost 7,100 U.S. college students. Results were released Nov. 11.