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We Gave 11 College Students a Pop Quiz on Their Credit. Here’s How They Did.

July 13, 2018

Millennials and gen-z-ers get a bit tired of the cliched stereotypes that are thrown around about us and our peers. Between being told that one more cappuccino will doom us to old-age retirement, or that our avocado toast habit will be the reason we never buy a home, it can feel a little daunting trying to navigate the world as an aspiring financially savvy adult. 

These stereotypes are not all true. For example, studies are showing that millennials are actually better savers than baby boomers — take that, Grandma. So, just how much does this emerging generation really know about personal finance and credit?

To find out, we gave a not-at-all-representative group of 11 college students and recent grads a quick credit based quiz. Let's see how they did — and see if you can get the answers right yourself, too.


Do you know what a credit score is? Who keeps track of them?

What they said:

While only one person was entirely clueless as to what their credit score was, only five in the group had any idea who the credit bureaus are. One aspiring accountant poetically described a credit score in these words: "a score calculated mostly from your financial history and shit idk and the 3 credit score agencies." 

Partial credit for somewhat-right answers all around, but that's not going to be good enough for our financially savvy RentTrack readers.

What you should know:

Your credit score is a numeric value between 300-850, with the higher numbers being preferable, that grades how reliable you are at paying back debt. The score results from your credit history and financial behaviors, as reported to the "big three" credit bureaus- Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.


Do you know what your credit score is? Do you know how to find out?

What they said:

This one tripped up a few more in the group. Seven of them knew how to figure out their score, a few even remembered it on the spot (good work, 700+ club!). One good sign came from Paula, a junior Global Studies major who said that she doesn't know what her credit is yet, but is working on establishing it through making small credit card purchases.

What you should know:

There's a few ways you can learn of your credit score, all of which we were nice enough to write about here. Keeping tabs on your credit score is a good habit to get into so you can either correct mistakes on your credit history, or work on establishing better habits to improve your credit. By knowing your score, you'll have a better idea of what kind of financing you'll be eligible for when you eventually apply for auto or even home loans, and how attractive of an applicant you'd be for your next apartment.


Do you care about your credit score? Why (not)?

What they said:

Here, our group was all in agreement that they cared about their credit, but their reasons why differed. Among those out in the working world, they had already begun seeing the benefits of a high credit score. A few said it helped them secure good financing for a car loan, another found it helped when applying to an apartment.

It was best summarized by one quote from junior Music Major, Jacob, who said "Yes, but only for the purpose of making sure it's fine now when I actually need to benefit from it in like 3-10 years." Largely, the group of college students saw their credit as something that wouldn't affect them until well into the future.

What you should know:

Our group had it pretty spot on here. A strong credit score makes your life easier when looking to make a big purchase, or applying for a new apartment. The key is to make sure that the financial habits you begin forming in your college and early-career years are ones that will benefit you in the future. Simple things like opening a credit card for small expenses (which you always pay off in full each month!) can help you establish good credit now for when you need it later.


Do you think paying rent affects your credit score?

What they said:

Here we got five "yes" responses, four people who were unsure, and only two people saying "no." Among the unsure, some thought it could only impact them in a negative if they were to miss a payment, others thought the payments couldn't be attributed to them if they were paying rent via a roommate or parent.

What you should know:

The truth is unless you or your landlord is using a service like RentTrack to report your rent as a tradeline on your credit report, your rental payments will likely have no impact on your credit.

Since for most millennials their monthly rent payment is their single largest expense, it's important to make this an expense that's working for you. Here's why it makes sense to have your rent factored into your credit score.


All-in-all, well done to our (mostly) willing participants! Hopefully you did all right if you were playing along at home, or at least learned what you needed to figure out. Personal finance and credit can unfortunately be taboo subjects at times, but by having the confidence to start figuring out this important info, you can help get yourself on track to reach your financial goals.