• A quarter (24%) of 16 and 17 year olds have been offered credit cards or received material asking if they would like to apply for one, despite it not being possible to apply for one themselves under existing law.
  • A third (30%) of 18 year olds already using credit cards, overdrafts and personal loans
  • Over a quarter (27%) of 16-18 year olds admit to not feeling in control of their finances
  • 54,000 18 year olds have taken out a personal loan
  • To help youngsters face up to the dangers of biting off more debt than they can chew, comparethemarket.com has created the Debt Free Face Calculator, which calculates what age you will be debt-free, and what you will probably look like.

00.01am 12 Decemeber 2017

Millions of young Brits are in danger of stepping into adulthood in debt, with one in four (24%) 16 and 17 year olds being offered credit cards despite not being able to apply for one themselves under existing law.

Although under 18s are not allowed to enter into their own credit card contract, receiving material may encourage them to do so as soon as they can. By the time youngsters hit 18, debt becomes a reality for one in three (30%) who sign up to credit cards. A fifth (21%) are also relying on their overdraft and over one in 20 (7%) – that’s 54,000 18 year olds – are even taking out personal loans.

The research, commissioned by comparethemarket.com who polled 1,000 16-18 year olds about their current financial habits, follows a recent warning from Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, of a "pronounced" build up of debt among young people.

Right now, the new research shows that over a quarter (27%) of 16-18 year olds admit to not feeling in control of their finances. And of those in control, two-thirds (63%) cite family support as the reason for staying afloat.

It seems many youngsters are being influenced by the high-living displayed by their favorite celebs on social media. Three in ten 16-18 year olds admit to being inspired to push their spending by celebs Instagram and Snapchat posts. Rhianna tops the list of celebs who inspire young females, while boys are more likely to be sucked in by the spending habits of Ed Sheeran and David Beckham.

Youngsters are seemingly taking a material approach to spending, with many admitting they will borrow money for non-essential items like clothes (10%), holidays (14%) and games consoles (7%).

Top celebrity influencers
Shakila Hashmi

Shakila Hashmi

Head of Money


“It’s vital that young people grow up to understand that money matters. If they don’t behave in a responsible way now, they are in danger of suffering from the longest financial hangovers in history.

“More must also be done to help the next generation get to grips with managing their finances. Far too often we see a culture of spending being encouraged which the majority of youngsters simply cannot continue. It’s up to the banks to consider what products are being pushed to what people, and at what age.

“If you feel like your debt issues are spiraling out of control, charities like StepChange offer free and impartial advice to help get your debt under control."