Survey Finds Majority of Those With Student Loan Debt Plan to Increase Their Holiday Spending This Year


Consumers with student loan debt are more likely to use credit cards and turn to personal loans for help with holiday spending.

AUSTIN, Texas, November 7, 2017 — A new survey by Student Loan Hero, a leading financial news and education site, finds that those with student loan debt are likely to spend more money this year than last year — and pay for more of their holiday expenses using debt.

According to the survey, 55 percent of student loan borrowers expect to increase their holiday spending from what they spent in 2016. This is compares with 37 percent of those without student loans who plan to spend more than they did last year. Some of those with student loan debt even considered skipping a student loan payment so they can better afford holiday spending.

Additionally, while 45 percent of respondents without student loan debt plan to use a credit card for their holiday shopping, that number jumps to 69 percent when looking at those with student loan debt. About one-third of those with student loan debt expect to spend more than $500 on a credit card to cover holiday expenses.


“People who already have debt are more likely to continue using debt,” said Daniel Levine, a trends expert and director of the Avant-Guide Institute, a global trends consultancy. He added that those with student loan debt aren’t just more comfortable with the idea of debt. “They also might feel like credit cards or personal loans are their best options because student loan payments take such a huge chunk of their disposable income.”

Key findings

  • 45 percent of all respondents said they planned to spend up to $500 for the holidays this year, and 20 percent said they planned to spend more than $1,000. Only 14 percent of respondents said they weren’t spending any money this holiday season.
  • Almost half (41 percent) of respondents put their holiday shopping stress level at 7 or above on a scale of 1 to 10.

Creating rules around holiday spending

  • 74 percent of respondents said they create rules around holiday spending. Of those with student loan debt, 82 percent create rules designed to help them manage their holiday spending.
  • 48 percent of all respondents chose a set amount to spend on each person for gift-giving. However, a significant number (21 percent) said they feel comfortable spending less on people closest to them who know they’re trying to save money or pay off debt. On the other hand, 33 percent spend more on those closest to them to “show they care”.

Consumers are willing to sacrifice for holiday spending

  • 21 percent of all respondents said they would set spending limits on entertainment or travel to rein in holiday-related costs.
  • The top items respondents said they would be willing to give up in order to save money during the holidays include going out to eat (53 percent), vacation or travel (49 percent), and drinking (43 percent).

Other debt used for holiday spending

  • 18 percent of respondents without student loan debt have used personal loans to pay for holiday expenses. Among those with student loan debt, however, 33 percent have taken out personal loans.
  • 40 percent of those with student loan debt have thought about skipping a student loan payment to afford holiday expenses.


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.

About Student Loan Hero

Student Loan Hero combines easy-to-use tools with financial education to help the millions of Americans living with student loan debt manage and pay off their loans. Student Loan Hero has helped more than 150,000 borrowers manage and eliminate over $3 billion in student loan debt since 2012 and assists over 3.5 million people in becoming more financially healthy every year.

Student Loan Hero offers both current and former students free loan calculators as well as unbiased, personalized advice and repayment plans through an easy-to-use online dashboard.

Founded in 2012 by CEO Andrew Josuweit, who himself had over $100,000 in student loans, Student Loan Hero operates on the belief that all loan help and recommendations should come with honesty and no hidden agenda.

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