Millennials and Gen Z Cite Higher Income as Leading Reason for Expected Increase in Holiday Spending

November 14, 2018

Thirst for Rewards Sparks Uptick in Credit Card Use this Holiday Season

RIVERWOODS, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Twenty-five percent of consumers plan to spend more this holiday season than they did last year, according to Discover’s annual holiday shopping survey. Younger generations are leading the charge, as 35 percent of Millennials and 33 percent of Generation Z report an expected bump in spending, compared to 26 percent of Generation X and 16 percent of Baby Boomers.

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25% of consumers plan to spend more this holiday season, according to Discover's annual holiday shop ...

25% of consumers plan to spend more this holiday season, according to Discover's annual holiday shopping survey. (Photo: Business Wire)

The reasons consumers expect to spend more vary between younger and older generations. Gen Z (51 percent) and Millennials (40 percent) say higher wages will fuel increased spending, whereas Gen X (38 percent) and Baby Boomers (36 percent) will boost spending to accommodate more people on their shopping list.

The number of those who expect to use credit cards to pay for most of their holiday gifts jumped to 38 percent this year, up from 32 percent in 2017. Less than a quarter, 24 percent, plan to use debit cards to pay for most of their gifts, and 20 percent will primarily use cash. Among those who favor credit cards when making holiday purchases, 54 percent say earning rewards is the driving factor, up from 42 percent last year.

“The holidays are the busiest shopping season of the year and our goal is to make it as simple and seamless as possible for our cardmembers to earn rewards every time they use their Discover card,” said Laks Vasudevan, Discover’s vice president of card programs, strategy and marketing. “Rewards are a major driver for our cardmembers, which is why we help maximize their earning potential during the holidays by aligning our 5% cashback program with popular seasonal categories like and wholesale clubs.”

Now through December, Discover cardmembers can earn 5% Cashback Bonus at and wholesale clubs on up to $1,500 in purchases after activation.

Gen Z Leads the Way for Mobile Shopping; Millennials Flip the Script on Wearables, IoT Devices

This marks the first year Discover included Gen Z as its own distinct generation in its annual survey. In doing so, the survey revealed the youngest generation as being tech savvy holiday shoppers. Gen Z led the way with 80 percent planning to use their mobile device to shop for holiday gifts, compared to 73 percent of Millennials, 62 percent of Gen X and 41 percent of Baby Boomers. Among those who plan to shop on their mobile devices, 67 percent of Gen Z say they will do so for all or most of their holiday shopping, compared to 66 percent of Millennials, 56 percent of Gen X and 39 percent of Baby Boomers.

Millennials slightly outpace Gen Z when it comes to embracing emerging technologies like wearables and voice-activated devices when holiday shopping. Thirty-six percent of Millennials and 35 percent of Gen Z plan to use a wearable or Internet of Things (IoT) device—for example, a payment-enabled watch or appliance—to make holiday purchases, compared to 24 percent of Gen X and 8 percent of Baby Boomers. Likewise, 29 percent of Millennials and 27 percent of Gen Z plan to use a voice-activated smart speaker to aid in their holiday shopping, compared to 23 percent of Gen X and 8 percent of Baby Boomers.

Concern over Identity Theft Is Down, but Most Consumers Remain Vigilant

More than half of respondents, 55 percent, say they are very or moderately concerned about identity theft or fraud during the holidays, down from 62 percent last year. Concern cuts across all generations, but levels are higher among Baby Boomers and Gen X, with 60 and 56 percent, respectively, saying they are very or moderately concerned, followed by 49 percent of Gen Z and 48 percent of Millennials.

The vast majority of survey respondents, 90 percent, say they take some measure to protect themselves from identity theft or fraud, including 62 percent who say they monitor their financial statements, 41 percent who monitor their credit reports and 39 percent who use a credit card with built-in security features.

“As consumers embrace new digital technologies while holiday shopping, such as smart speakers and wearable devices, Discover aims to provide peace of mind to its cardmembers by offering a number of free security features on all of our cards, like monitoring every Discover card purchase every day, and offering Social Security number and new account alerts1 that cardmembers can sign up for,” adds Vasudevan.

For more information about Discover card security features, go to

For more information about Discover card rewards, go to

About Discover’s 2018 Holiday Shopping Survey

The national survey of 2,006 U.S. consumers ages 18 and up was commissioned by Discover and conducted by Research Now, an independent survey research firm, between October 19 and October 23, 2018. The maximum margin of sampling error was ±2 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence. Generations are defined as: Generation Z, born after 1997; Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996; Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980; and Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964.

About Discover

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a direct banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company issues the Discover card, America's cash rewards pioneer, and offers private student loans, personal loans, home equity loans, checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit through its direct banking business. It operates the Discover Global Network comprised of Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the nation's leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payments network with acceptance in 190 countries and territories. For more information, visit

1 Discover® Identity Alerts currently include the following services: (a) daily monitoring of your Experian® credit report and an alert when a new account is listed on your report; (b) daily monitoring of thousands of risky websites known for revealing personal information and an alert if your Social Security Number on is found on such a website. The Primary cardmember must agree online to receive identity alerts. To see a list of Frequently Asked Questions, visit

Discover Financial Services
Jeremy Borling, 224-405-4252
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Source: Discover Financial Services