Bridging the Financial Literacy Gap Through Credit Education

Published: April 17, 2024 by Christina Roman

Four young adults use a laptop to study credit and personal finance in a library.

Like many people, money and personal finance were not topics often talked about when I was growing up. The same was true when it came to credit. In fact, I was raised to believe credit was something to avoid. I didn’t learn credit can be a financial tool to unlock many of the things we want in life until I was much older. This meant I learned a lot about credit and personal finance by making mistakes.

And new research reveals this is the case for many Americans.

Understanding credit and personal finance is paramount for financial well-being, especially for younger generations navigating today’s financial landscape. Yet, against the backdrop of Financial Literacy Month, our new research shows a lack of financial knowledge is leading to costly financial mistakes for many.

In fact, our survey of 2,000 adults across the U.S. revealed three in five adults feel their limited understanding of credit and personal finance has led them to make financial mistakes, with 60% of this group stating these mistakes have cost them $1,000 or more. This trend is particularly apparent among younger groups with 71% of Gen Zers and 70% of Millennials claiming their inadequate knowledge of credit and personal finance has come at a price. Twenty-nine percent of Gen Zers and 38% of Millennials report these financial mistakes have cost $5,000 or more.


I have poor or no understanding of credit and personal finance 12% 18% 14% 12% 7% 0%
I want to know more about credit and personal finance 66% 80% 79% 63% 48% 47%
My limited understanding of credit and personal finance has led me to make financial mistakes.   60% 71% 70% 61% 44% 24%
Financial mistakes I’ve made due to my limited understanding of credit and personal finance have cost me:  
$5K or more   37% 29% 38% 43% 33% 38%
$1K or more   60% 58% 63% 64% 52% 63%
$10K or more 23% 12% 22% 31% 24% 38%
I learned about credit and personal finance:  
Through online research 32% 25% 36% 35% 27% 32%
In school, college or community classes 33% 35% 26% 35% 35% 38%
From a parent of family member 36% 31% 30% 38% 42% 47%
Social media in some form 30% 52% 47% 24% 7% 0%
I believe personal finance should be a required course in high school. 78% 72% 72% 81% 85% 88%
I believe access to credit plays a significant role in my overall financial health. 80% 77% 82% 81% 78% 88%

Bridging the Knowledge Gap

These statistics underscore the importance of ongoing financial education. It’s evident there’s a strong desire among individuals, especially younger generations, to enhance their understanding of credit and personal finance. However, without adequate knowledge, many are susceptible to making costly financial mistakes.

Navigating the mainstream financial system has its complexities, and if consumers don’t have a baseline understanding, it can be overwhelming. At Experian, we’re committed to bridging this knowledge gap and empowering individuals to take control of their financial futures.

We offer a range of free tools and resources designed to educate and empower consumers, including:

  • Free Credit Reports: Gain insight into your credit history and monitor your financial health with a free copy of your Experian credit report and FICO Score®[1]. You can access these through our free mobile app or our website.
  • Credit Monitoring: Stay informed about changes to your credit report and receive alerts about potentially fraudulent activity as part of our free Experian membership.
  • Educational Resources: Check out our official credit advice blog, Ask Experian, where you’ll find answers to common questions and expert advice on credit-related topics.
  • Experian Boost®: Take advantage of this innovative tool to potentially improve your credit scores by adding positive telecom, utility, and other payments to your credit file.[2]
  • Experian Go™: If you’re new to credit, our mobile app offers a free membership to help you establish and build credit responsibly.

Join Us in Celebrating Financial Literacy Month

I also encourage consumers to join Experian’s weekly #CreditChat hosted by @Experian on X with financial experts every Wednesday at 3 p.m. Eastern time. In recognition of Financial Literacy Month, consumers can learn personal finance basics from experts each week on topics, including budgeting, savings, credit and debt, and more.

Survey Methodology

Experian commissioned Atomik Research to conduct an online survey of 2,005 adults throughout the United States. The makeup of the sample is representative of the U.S. population based on national census data regarding demographic variables such as gender, age and geographical regions. The margin of error for the overall sample is +/- 2 percentage points with a confidence level of 95 percent. Fieldwork took place between March 17 and March 21, 2024.

[1] Credit score is calculated based on FICO® Score 8 model, unless otherwise noted. In addition to the FICO® Score 8, we may offer and provide other base or industry-specific FICO® Scores (such as FICO® Auto Scores and FICO® Bankcard Scores). Your lender or insurer may use a different FICO® Score than FICO® Score 8 or such other base or industry-specific FICO® Score (if available), or another type of credit score altogether. Learn more.

[2] Results will vary. Not all payments are boost-eligible. Some users may not receive an improved score or approval odds. Not all lenders use Experian credit files, and not all lenders use scores impacted by Experian Boost®. Learn more.

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