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Survey June 6, 2023

Quicktake: New college grads plan to celebrate by traveling

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45% of new college grads* are trading their caps and gowns for getaways in the U.S. – and abroad.

While much uncertainty exists in the overarching macro-economic environment right now, new college graduates appear to be living in the moment before life in the “real world” begins. Bread Financial’s latest proprietary survey reveals that college grads are planning domestic (27%) and/or international trips (also 27%) to mark their big achievements. Combined, 45% of new college grads are planning celebratory travel; this is consistent among both male and female graduates.

Travel is a major celebratory activity
Among new college grads, traveling the U.S. and/or abroad is a top graduation plan, in line with more traditional activities like going out to dinner or having a party.


BNPL, credit cards pass the test with travelers
When it comes to outfitting a trip with apparel, suitcases and such – or even booking travel – college grads may look to buy now, pay later (BNPL) or credit cards, their top ways to pay for non-essential purchases.


Most have secured full-time employment
Perhaps giving them confidence to take the time (and money) to travel, the majority of traveling college grads will be working new or existing full-time jobs post graduation.

Work plans

Key takeaway: Homing in on niche consumer groups
While much uncertainty exists from an overarching consumer perspective, it is possible to uncover shop-and-spend opportunities among more niche consumer groups, like new college graduates. Focusing on milestone moments with meaningful messaging could be key to unlocking additional spend from these smaller groups of shoppers. 

Source: Bread Financial proprietary study, College Grad survey, April 2023.
*College grads: Gen Z students (born 1997-2003) graduating from a traditional college/university or technical/trade school after spring semester 2023.