59.7% of Gen Xers Have Auto Loans at the Highest Balances

BY Rachel Cagle
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LendingTree, the nation's leading online loan marketplace, today released its study on auto debt by generation that found those between the ages of 39 and 54 shoulder the biggest load among its users, with nearly 60% of Gen Xers having an auto loan.

In 2018, U.S. auto loan originations hit a 19-​year high: $584 billion. Rising car prices, interest rates and loan term lengths translate to Americans tossing a large chunk of income toward more than $1.14 trillion in auto debt.

Key findings

  • Not only do 59.7% of Gen Xers have an auto loan, they have the highest median loan balances: $18,741.
  • Baby boomers are in second place, with a median balance of $17,185.
  • However, millennials are more likely than boomers to have an auto loan at all: 55% of these young adults hold an auto note.
  • For Americans of all ages:
    • The average new car loan is nearly $30,000.
    • The average monthly new car payment is $530.
    • The average auto loan term is nearly 69 months.

If members of Gen X don't already have an auto loan they're working through, many are planning on having one in the near future. By next year, according to AudienceSCAN, 24.9% of this generation plans on buying a new car or truck. However, only 10.9% are planning on hiring a financial planner to help them navigate the payment process. Financial service providers can alert members of Gen X with car loans of the benefits of their services while they're researching their next vehicle. Last month, 49.3% of this audience used a search engine to research a product they were considering (probably on Google since it's the search engine preferred by 88.5% of this audience).

Gen X's auto loan debt is higher.
At $18,741, the median balance of Gen Xers who have auto loans is 9% more than baby boomers' $17,185 median balance, nearly 16% more than millennials' $16,200 and 37% more than the lowest median balance of $13,666 held by Gen Z.

Gen X has more auto loan debt than any other generation. Nearly 60% of Gen X has an auto loan. They also log the greatest number of miles, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration. Millennials are right behind Gen X; 54.5% have an auto loan. Baby boomers are not far behind at about 54 percent.

The oldest and the youngest are the least likely to have auto debt. Only 36% of Gen Z have an auto loan, the median balance of which is $13,666. Of the oldest generation in the study, 43% have an auto loan, the median balance of which is $14,042.

Consumer lending services and dealerships offering great financing deals should target Generation X members through digital ads. Last year, according to AudienceSCAN, 49.5% took action after receiving an email ad and 45.8% were driven to action by seeing an ad they received via text or one they saw on their mobile apps. They're also 7% more likely than other adults to find advertising on social networks useful. Don't slack on traditional ad components though. Last year, 62.2% of Gen Xers took action after seeing a TV commercial and 46.1% reacted to radio ads, both over-​the-​air and online.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.