A study of some 48,000 15-year-olds suggests that a quarter of teens struggle with simple personal finance tasks. The OECD says many youngsters lack the necessary education to make informed decisions.
Teenagers in 15 developed and emerging market countries were surveyed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) about their understanding of personal finance, ranging from bank accounts to loan interest.
Around 48,000 15-year-olds took part, with around 25 percent failing to understand simple choices around everyday spending, while only one in ten could comprehend more complex finance issues, including income tax.
Several Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, had the highest score, followed by Belgium's Flemish community and several Canadian provinces.
Almost two-thirds of teens earn money, while about 60 percent receive cash in the form of an allowance or pocket money.
While more than half hold a bank account, almost two out of three students don't have the skills to manage an account and cannot interpret a bank statement.
The survey found that teens that do well in reading and mathematics tests also do well in financial literacy and vice versa.
The report also showed a smaller gender gap than in the other two subjects but highlighted how students from wealthier background had a stronger knowledge of personal finance issues than their less-advantaged counterparts.
The OECD said its data showed that only personal finance education has the potential to ensure a level playing field between teens of different backgrounds.