FICO Survey: One in Five Millennials Would Buy a Car on Their Credit Card

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SAN JOSE, Calif.  — 10 March, 2016


  • FICO consumer research shows that 91 percent of Millennials prefer a car for daily transport.
  • 19 percent of Millennials say they would buy a car with a credit card.
  • 39 percent of Millennials say they are very likely to acquire a new car in the next year.
  • 82 percent of all respondents said auto dealers are still the preferred choice for financing a vehicle. However, Millennials are more likely to consider online channels like Craigslist, eBay and AutoTrader.

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FICO's latest consumer research on finance trends has revealed that Millennials, aged 25-34, still seek the freedom, independence and convenience of owning their own car. Millennials want or need a car so badly that 19 percent said they will buy one on their credit card, even though the interest rates will be high. A full cash purchase was preferred (34 percent), with 27 percent saying they would get financing through banks and credit unions, and 20 percent through a dealer.

91 percent of Millennials prefer their own car for getting around on a daily basis.  Only 2 percent of people in this age group said they would use a family member’s car, and a meagre 1 percent said ride-sharing services would meet their primary transport needs on a daily basis.

39 percent of Millennials said they are very likely to acquire a new car in the next year. This is more than 18-24 year olds (22 percent) and 35-49 year olds (28 percent).

With oil prices at historic lows, interest rates bottomed out and a stronger domestic economy, the conditions have been ripe for a boom in car sales in the US. In 2015, auto makers reported selling 17.5 million cars and light trucks, a 5.7 percent increase over 2014.

The survey also examined the sales channel. 82 percent of all respondents said auto dealers are still the preferred choice for purchasing a vehicle.  However, Millennials are more likely to consider such online channels as Craigslist, eBay and AutoTrader. 59 percent of Millennials said they would buy from another consumer on Craigslist or eBay, compared to 40 percent of overall respondents. By contrast, just 17 percent of people in the 50+ age group said they would use AutoTrader and 10 percent Craigslist or eBay.

When it came to differences between the sexes, women were more likely to take out dealership finance (30 percent) compared to men (20 percent). While to avoid a loan, 40 percent of men would elect to pay for a car entirely in cash, compared to 32 percent of women.

"There is an opportunity for auto lenders to attract Millennial consumers who aren’t being served by traditional lenders," said Ken Kertz, auto practice director for FICO. "This study shows how important owning your own car is to people both for their livelihood and for the convenience of it. Defaults are generally low with cars, so there is scope to optimize lending to offer better deals to lower-risk customers, as well as broadening the pool of potential customers eligible for loans. "

FICO conducted an online survey of about 1,000 US consumers over the age of 17, in October and November 2015. Data was weighted by age and region to reflect U.S. Census data.

About FICO
FICO (NYSE: FICO) powers decisions that help people and businesses around the world prosper. Founded in 1956 and based in Silicon Valley, the company is a pioneer in the use of predictive analytics and data science to improve operational decisions. FICO holds more than 165 US and foreign patents on technologies that increase profitability, customer satisfaction and growth for businesses in financial services, telecommunications, health care, retail and many other industries. Using FICO solutions, businesses in more than 100 countries do everything from protecting 2.6 billion payment cards from fraud, to helping people get credit, to ensuring that millions of airplanes and rental cars are in the right place at the right time.

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