Image courtesy Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you think young people don’t know how to manage money and pay down their credit cards, then you should think again.

A new study from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond shows young borrowers – 18 to 25 years old — are among the least likely credit card users to have a serious default on their cards.

Researchers found that while people in their early 20s are more likely to experience minor delinquencies (30 or 60 days past due), they are much less likely to experience serious delinquency (90 days or more past due). In fact, someone age 40 to 44 years old is 12 percentage points more likely to have a serious delinquency than a 19 year old.

The study results demonstrate that part of the Credit Card Act of 2009 may not have been necessary. The act made it illegal to issue a credit card to individuals under 21 unless the person has a cosigner or submits financial information indicating an independent means of repaying the debt. It also includes a provision banning companies from recruiting credit card users within 1,000 feet of college campuses or at college events.

“Letting students apply for credit cards may actually make sense,” said researcher Andra Ghent. “These students are the people who want credit, need to build up a good credit history, and have a steeply sloped income profile. If they don’t have a student loan, then a credit card may be the only way they can establish a decent credit history.”