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College students’ consumption of credit cards

Charles Blankson (Department of Marketing and Logistics, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)
Audhesh Paswan (Department of Marketing and Logistics, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)
Kwabena G. Boakye (Department of Marketing and Logistics, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)

International Journal of Bank Marketing

ISSN: 0265-2323

Article publication date: 5 October 2012




The importance of and viability of the college student cohort for credit card firms and banks are well documented and so are the challenges facing marketers interested in this target market. The first purpose of this paper is to examine college students’ motivation for consuming credit cards and the usefulness of the latter to them. The second purpose relies on marketing scholars’ advice by replicating and then validating an extant scale that measures college students’ decision criteria for credit cards. Specifically, the paper attempts to answer two questions: what is the compelling reason for a college student to want to own and use a credit card? In addition, how important is the credit card to the college student?


The authors adopted the classical multi‐step scale development procedure, which demands that thorough attention is paid to every step of the process. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were used to assess the reliability and validity of the results.


This study has replicated and validated an extant scale measuring college students’ consumption of credit cards. The findings confirm four key factors: “customer service;” “incentives;” “need for credit;” and “buying power.” In addition, 66 per cent of the respondents claim that credit cards provide a sense of security for them. Furthermore, while 49 per cent of the sample uses their cards up to three purchases monthly, 51 per cent use their cards more than four times in a month. Moreover, 25 per cent of the respondents regularly use their cards (i.e. more than seven purchases or more per month).

Research limitations/implications

The cross‐sectional research basis and convenience samples are weaknesses of this study, as they pose generalizability questions. Although the study is consistent with the literature and directions from academic and practitioner experts, the authors acknowledge the lack of (true experimental) control over the identified factors.

Practical implications

Credit card marketers and bank managers may assess the dimensions in this study and adapt them as the basis for marketing and positioning strategies, marketing communication tactics, and brand management, particularly within the college student and the youth target markets. This can lead to the basis upon which credit card policies, i.e. college students’ compulsive buying habits, college students’ credit card debt, and banks’ marketing activities may be proposed.


The paper proposes a rigorously validated scale that reflects both psychometric and parsimonious measures dealing with college students’ consumption of credit cards. In view of the scarce stream of empirical studies dealing with college students’ consumption of credit cards, this paper comes at an opportune time as scholars continue to debate and research about college students’ credit card debt and credit card firms’ ethical practices on college campuses. Moreover, the paper supports the importance of generalizability of findings and replication studies.



Blankson, C., Paswan, A. and Boakye, K.G. (2012), "College students’ consumption of credit cards", International Journal of Bank Marketing, Vol. 30 No. 7, pp. 567-585.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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