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Survey Says: Personal Finance Knowledge Gaps Are Leading to Costly Mistakes

New Experian® research underscores the need for improved financial education as younger consumers bear the brunt of costly financial errors

Lack of financial knowledge is leading to costly financial missteps for many Americans according to new research1 released today by Experian®. A survey of 2,000 adults across the U.S. revealed 3 in 5 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.

Experian's research also highlights the gap between the desire for financial education and its availability in schools. While 78% of adults believe that personal finance courses should be mandatory in high schools, only 25 states across the U.S. currently require them schools, according to the advocacy group Next Gen Personal Finance.

The study revealed many consumers have an appetite for further education, with two-thirds of adults (66%) stating they’d like to expand their knowledge of credit and personal finance, with even higher percentages among Gen Zers (80%) and millennials (79%).

“Understanding credit and personal finance is paramount for financial well-being, especially for younger generations navigating today's financial landscape,” said Christina Roman, consumer education and advocacy manager at Experian. “Financial mistakes, such as missed payments, overpaying on interest or simply not understanding the terms you are agreeing to, can come at a serious cost for consumers. As part of our mission to bring financial power to all, we are committed to being a trusted resource for consumers and want to remind them about the free tools and educational resources we have available to help them live more financially empowered lives.”

Where consumers are learning today

According to Experian’s research, adults most frequently learn about credit and personal finance from a parent or family member (36%); in school, college or through community classes (33%); or through online research (32%). Additionally, they consider banks and credit unions (45%), financial advisors (48%) and national credit reporting agencies like Experian (37%) to be some of the most trusted sources to learn about improving their credit score.

Not surprisingly, social media is another common source of information about credit and personal finance. Thirty percent of adults have turned to social media to learn more about credit and personal finance. This sentiment rang especially true for America’s youngest consumers with over half of Gen Zers (52%) and 47% of millennials stating they learned about credit and personal finance through social media in some form, including YouTube (30% Gen Z, 31% millennials), TikTok (20% Gen Z, 15% millennials) and Instagram (18% Gen Z, 16% millennials).

Experian’s free tools and resources

Those looking to expand their financial knowledge are encouraged to take advantage of Experian’s free tools and resources, including:

  • Signing up for credit monitoring and receiving a free copy of your Experian credit report and FICO Score®2 monthly at or via Experian’s mobile app. Experian also offers access to personal finance and credit building tools, such as:
    • Experian Boost®: Consumers can add positive telecom, utility, video streaming service and qualifying residential rent payments to their Experian credit file for an opportunity to improve their credit scores by visiting
    • Experian Go™: Consumers without an established credit history can download Experian’s mobile app and enroll in a free Experian membership to establish, use and build credit responsibly with Experian Go.
    • Experian’s official credit advice blog, Ask Experian, has answers to common questions, advice and education about credit. Consumers can find additional credit education resources at

Consumers are also encouraged to join Experian’s weekly #creditchat hosted by @Experian on Twitter 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.

About Experian

Experian is the world’s leading global information services company. During life’s big moments – from buying a home or a car, to sending a child to college, to growing a business by connecting with new customers – we empower consumers and our clients to manage their data with confidence. We help individuals to take financial control and access financial services, businesses to make smarter decisions and thrive, lenders to lend more responsibly, and organisations to prevent identity fraud and crime.

We have 22,000 people operating across 32 countries and every day we’re investing in new technologies, talented people, and innovation to help all our clients maximise every opportunity. With corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, we are listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and are a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

Learn more at or visit our global content hub at our global news blog for the latest news and insights from the Group.

1 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.

2 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.

3 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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