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I was shocked to see my friends pay a restaurant bill with debit cards, but it turns out they're perfectly representative of millennials on the whole

I was shocked to see my friends pay a restaurant bill with debit cards, but it turns out they're perfectly representative of millennials on the whole
Thomas Barwick/Getty Images



A weekend trip to Las Vegas made me realize how many of my millennial friends still rely on debit cards for their daily purchases.




Surprisingly, it's not just my friends who aren't taking advantage of credit-card rewards — a 2019 study found that 23% of millennials didn't have a credit card.




And that's problematic. Credit cards can help you not only build credit history, but take advantage of valuable rewards.




See Business Insider's picks for the best rewards credit cards »



At a restaurant in Las Vegas, a few friends and I were splitting the check for brunch. When the check came, we all pulled out our cards to pay. I was shocked to see two debit cards among the six of us.
My friends are millennials, and they're generally pretty good with money. They're all frequent travelers and love to spend money on experiences like dining out. While one of my friends is very loyal to the Capital One Venture card and I'm a United Explorer card fanatic, not everyone has found the right card yet. They're all smart and savvy people, and it surprised me when I saw some of them missing out on all that credit cards have to offer.
Later, I found out that my friend group was pretty representative of the larger population: About 23% of millennials don't carry a credit card, TD Bank's Annual Consumer Spending Survey found in March. And that means many millennials are leaving big rewards on the table.
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