Survey: The Unexpected Ways Student Loans Affect Holiday Shopping

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‘Tis the season for higher spending and stressful shopping. According to the latest survey from Student Loan Hero, 41 percent of respondents rate their holiday shopping stress level a 7 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10. In fact, 40 percent of those with student debt have even thought about skipping a loan payment during the holidays.

Part of that stress comes from the presence of student loan debt. Consumers with student loans are more likely to turn to other sources of debt, including credit cards and personal loans, to help them pay for holiday spending — the survey showed they’re also more likely to try to save money by selling presents they receive or re-gifting items. Additionally, many consumers, like last year, expect to carry their holiday debt into the new year.

Here are some of the key takeaways from our survey on holiday spending and student loans.

Student loan borrowers more likely to take on holiday debt

While only 37 percent of those without student loan debt plan to spend more than last year, 55 percent of those with student loan debt think they will spend more money on the holidays this year.

Nearly half (45 percent) of those without student loan debt said they plan to use credit cards for holiday expenses. That number jumps to 69 percent when looking at those with student loan debt planning to use their credit cards to make purchases for the holidays. And 33 percent of those with student loan debt will spend more than $500 on their credit cards, while only 22 percent of those without student loan debt plan to spend more than $500 on their credit cards this holiday season.

Additionally, 18 percent of respondents without student loan debt have taken out personal loans for holiday expenses — among those with student loan debt, that number almost doubles to 33 percent.

According to Daniel Levine, director of the global trends consultancy Avant-Guide Institute, this information squares with what he’s seen before. “People who already have debt are more likely to continue using debt,” he said. “So if you already have student loans, you are likely to feel comfortable using credit cards to make your purchases, even if it means you spend a little more.”

On the other hand, whether or not you have student debt doesn’t seem to impact how long it will take to pay off the holiday spending. Thirty-seven percent of all respondents said they would not pay off their holiday spending credit purchases immediately, more or less the same as when looking at just those with student loans. And over one-third (39 percent) of those surveyed said it would take more than six months to pay off their holiday expenses.

holiday shopping

Carrying balances leads to interest charges and increased overall costs for the holidays. For more than a third of consumers, whether or not they have student loan debt, holiday spending will continue to impact them halfway through next year.

Making a plan to pay off credit card debt as soon possible can help alleviate some of the holiday stress. About 6 out of 10 respondents said they hoped to have their holiday spending paid off within six months.

Student loan debt prompts re-gifting and selling presents

In addition to being more likely to spend using credit, student loan borrowers are also more likely to change the way they receive gifts during the holiday season.

First of all, 29 percent of respondents without student loan debt said they have either re-gifted or sold gifts received in the past, and/or are planning to do so this year. However, that number jumps to 58 percent for those with student loan debt.

On top of that, many respondents want gifts that will save them money, such as a gift card to a grocery store. While less than two-thirds (59 percent) of all respondents said they’re likely to ask for gifts that will help them live frugally, that number rose to 77 percent for those with student debt.

holiday spending

Levine said it makes sense for people to want to avoid physical items in favor of gift cards. “More and more people, especially millennials, prize gifts of experience,” he said. “A gift card lets the recipient not only choose what they want to buy, but it also gives them a chance to enjoy an experience, rather than figure out how to store things they probably won’t even use.”

Trying not to break the bank during the holidays

Student loan debt can make budgeting a challenge during the holidays. It seems there are constant demands on our pocketbooks during this time of year, from gift-giving to holiday parties to buying decorations. It’s little surprise that 40 percent of those with student debt have thought about skipping a student loan payment to afford holiday expenses.

This year looks to be a more expensive year than last year for holiday spending as well, according to our survey. Thirty-seven percent of respondents without student loan debt said they will spend more this holiday season. Interestingly, among those with student loan debt, more than half (55 percent) plan to increase their holiday spending over last year.

But that doesn’t mean holiday spenders are just throwing money around. Many holiday shoppers plan to give up things to save money during the season:

holiday shopping

Top things people are willing to give up to save money during the holidays include:

  • Eating out
  • Vacation/travel
  • Drinking
  • Buying clothes

Only about one-quarter of respondents showed a willingness to give up buying gifts to save money during the holidays. Shoppers are more likely to sacrifice their comfort rather than deprive their loved ones of holiday cheer.

Additionally, the creation of rules around holiday spending seems to help shoppers rein themselves in. Seventy-four percent of all respondents said they do this, while among those with student debt, 82 percent set spending rules.

However, the specific gift-giving rules used seem more or less the same whether or not respondents have student loan debt. The chart below shows how this breaks down:

holiday spending

Most of our respondents seemed to favor setting rules that are “fair” by spending the same amount for each person on their list. However, some believe that they can reduce their obligation to spend on gift giving by letting those closest to them know that they are trying to save money or pay off debt. So far, it looks as though very few consumers will skip holiday spending altogether in the name of saving money.

However, even if you plan to spend, it doesn’t have to break the budget. Check out some of our helpful articles on making the most of the holidays:

Survey methodology

Student Loan Hero conducted this survey via Survey Monkey on October 11, 2017, and collected responses from a nationally representative sample of 1,050 adults living in the United States. The survey results have a margin of error of ±3 percent.

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LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Fixed rates from 5.99% APR to 18.82% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of March 19, 2020 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your creditworthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.
    See Consumer Licenses.
  3. Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.
  4. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may apply for Unemployment Protection. SoFi will suspend your monthly SoFi loan payments and provide job placement assistance during your forbearance period. Interest will continue to accrue and will be added to your principal balance at the end of each forbearance period, to the extent permitted by applicable law. Benefits are offered in three month increments, and capped at 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. To be eligible for this assistance you must provide proof that you have applied for and are eligible for unemployment compensation, and you must actively work with our Career Advisory Group to look for new employment. If the loan is co-signed the unemployment protection applies where both the borrower and cosigner lose their job and meet conditions.
  5. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Opploans.

Opploans Disclosures

Direct Deposit required for payroll.

Opploans currently operates in these states: . *Approval may take longer if additional verification documents are requested. Not all loan requests are approved. Approval and loan terms vary based on credit determination and state law. Applications processed and approved before 7:30 p.m. ET Monday-Friday are typically funded the next business day.

  1. To qualify, a borrower must (i) be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; (ii) reside in a state where OppLoans operates; (iii) have direct deposit; (iv) meet income requirements; (v) be 18 years of age (19 in Alabama); and, (vi) meet verification standards.
  2. NV Residents: The use of high-interest loans services should be used for short-term financial needs only and not as a long-term financial solution. Customers with credit difficulties should seek credit counseling before entering into any loan transaction.

  3. OppLoans performs no credit checks through the three major credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Applicants’ credit scores are provided by Clarity Services, Inc., a credit reporting agency.

  4. Based on customer service ratings on Google and Facebook. Testimonials reflect the individual’s opinion and may not be illustrative of all individual experiences with OppLoans. Check loan reviews.

  5.  

    Rates and terms vary by state.


3 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

4 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. The loan terms presented are not guaranteed and APRs presented are estimates only. To obtain a loan you must submit additional information and documentation and all loans are subject to credit review and our approval process. The range of APRs is 7.99% to 29.99% and your actual APR will depend upon factors including your credit score, usage and history, the requested loan amount, the stated loan purpose, and the term of the requested loan. To qualify for a 7.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan for an amount less than $12,000.00, and with a term equal to 24 months. Adding a co-borrower with sufficient income; using at least eighty-five percent (85%) of the loan proceeds to directly pay off qualifying existing debt; or showing proof of sufficient retirement savings, could help you also qualify for the lowest rate available. All loans are made by Cross River Bank and MetaBank®, N.A., Members FDIC.

5 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Fixed interest rates from 6.79% – 20.89% (6.79% – 20.89% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%- 18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
     
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

6 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

  • Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint’s proprietary scoring and underwriting system’s review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint’s final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $25,000, at rates ranging from a low of 9.99% APR to a high of 35.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months. The loan offer(s) shown reflect a 28 day payment cycle which is being offered as a courtesy as many of our customers are paid on a biweekly schedule and thus this may better align the loan payment dates with your actual income receipt schedule.

7 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.

LendingClub Disclosures

All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage & history. The APR ranges from 6.95% to 35.89%*. The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6% of the original principal balance and is deducted from your loan proceeds. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at the time of application. The average origination fee is 5.49% as of Q1 2017. In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,025 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months. Borrower must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or be in the United States on a valid long term visa and at least 18 years old. Valid bank account and Social Security number are required. Equal Housing Lender. All loans are subject to credit approval. LendingClub’s physical address is: LendingClub, 71 Stevenson Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 94105.

†Per reviews collected and authenticated by Bazaarvoice in compliance with the Bazaarvoice Authentication Requirements, supported by anti-fraud technology and human analysis. All reviews can be reviewed at reviews.lendingclub.com

**Based on approximately 60% of borrowers who received offers through LendingClub’s marketing partners between January 1, 2018 to July 20,2018. The time it will take to fund your loan may vary.


8 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Earnest does not lend in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island.

9 Important Disclosures for Avant.

Avant Disclosures

*If approved, the actual loan terms that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination, state law, and other factors. Minimum loan amounts vary by state.

**Example: A $5,900 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,619.75, repayable in 36 monthly installments, with an APR of 29.95% would have monthly payments of $250.30.

Based on the responses from 11,574 customers in a survey of 210,584 newly funded customers, conducted from 1 Feb 2018 – 1 Aug 2019 95.05% of customers stated that they were either extremely satisfied or satisfied with Avant. 4/5 Customers would recommend us. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.


* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 7.99%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 2.9% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Personal loans issued by Upgrade’s lending partners. Information on Upgrade’s lending partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/lending-partners/.

5.99% – 18.82%1$5,000 - $100,000

Visit SoFi

7.00% – 35.99%$5,000 - $30,000

Visit Upstart

7.99% – 35.97%*$1,000 - $35,000

Visit Upgrade

99.00% – 199.00%2$500 - $4,000

Visit OppLoans

5.99% – 24.99%3$5,000 - $35,000

Visit Payoff

7.99% – 29.99%4$7,500 - $40,000

Visit FreedomPlus

6.79% – 20.89%5$5,000 - $50,000

Visit Citizens

9.99% – 35.99%6$2,000 - $25,000

Visit LendingPoint

6.95% – 35.89%7$1,000 - $40,000

Visit LendingClub

5.99% – 17.24%8$5,000 - $75,000

Visit Earnest

9.95% – 35.99%9$2,000 - $35,000

Visit Avant

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.