Members of the millennial generation are often cast in the public mind as avocado fanatics, department store killers and devoted basement dwellers averse to debt or rent. Yet nearly half of the nation's roughly 71 million millennials are now in their 30s, and some have managed to save enough money to be generous social hosts, a new survey indicates.
According to the survey from CreditCards.com, older millennials (those ages 28-37) are most likely to pick up the tab when dining in a group. More than a quarter of millennials reported having done so at least once, compared with just 13 percent of baby boomers.
Well, maybe they're not quite the Givingest Generation — the survey wording only looks at people doing it for their credit card rewards. Of those rewards, it's the miles and points that get people most excited, with cash back rewards generating somewhat less interest.
"We have seen that there is a passionate subset of millennials that really, really gets into rewards," said Matt Schultz, senior industry analyst for CreditCards.com. "That is the group that are a little more established in their career."
Not coincidentally, he noted, "That's really the group that credit card companies are going after, all guns blazing."
The preference for points dovetails with an established preference among millennials to spend more on experiences — whether dinner with friends or a vacation trip — than on things.
The practice of paying for groups — sometimes called "table banking" — isn't new. However, the proliferation of payment apps like Venmo, PayPal and Zelle have created new options for splitting bills, potentially complicating a social situation.
"In some ways, that choice makes it more difficult," said Daniel Senning, an author and spokesperson for Emily Post Institute. "If you're in a situation where there isn't a clear host, it's a good idea to talk about [payment]. The sooner you do it, the better."
Sennings suggests discussing payment when the group is deciding what to order, including suggesting separate checks, if necessary. "It makes it easier for people to order things" if they know they'll only pay for their own portion of the bill, he said. (It also makes your restaurant server's life easier if you ask for a separate check from the get-go.)
Paying for a group always involves the possibility you won't be paid back. Nearly half of the people in CreditCards.com's survey said they haven't been repaid at least once. To avoid that situation, it helps to know your friends — and maybe be more selective about the times you offer to pay.
Said Shultz, "There's a difference between doing this for three or four people and doing it for 15."