Getting your first credit card can be tough, especially if you have no credit history. If you are looking for your first credit card, you will need to do your homework and know how to apply. After you have the card in your wallet, you will need to guard it carefully and use it wisely.
Credit cards provide great convenience, but they have their costs as well. Understanding the costs and the benefits of using a credit card is essential to securing your financial future.
Getting Your First Credit Card
Getting your first credit card will be your first challenge. While credit card companies are always on the lookout for new customers, banks have become pickier about which applications they approve. If you are seeking your first credit card, you probably have no credit history to speak of. That means the bank has no way of knowing what kind of customer you will be. You might pay your bills faithfully every month, or you might fall behind immediately. The bank may be unwilling to take that risk, and that could mean rejected credit card applications.
One way to increase your odds is to apply at a bank where you already have a checking or savings account. A pre-existing relationship with the bank can go a long way and improve your odds of being accepted.
If that strategy does not work, a secured credit card is probably your best option. As the name implies, a secured credit card is tied to the money you have on deposit with the bank. You can only spend a percentage of the money you deposit, and that means the bank is taking no risk.
A secured credit card can be a good learning tool as well. Since you cannot spend more than you have, you learn to adjust your spending and stay within your means. By the time you are ready to graduate to an unsecured card, you will have the financial experience you need to avoid overspending and going into debt.
Once You Have the Card
Getting your own unsecured credit card is only the first challenge. Once the card is in your wallet, you will need to use it wisely. That means keeping careful track of the charges you make and ensuring you have enough money in your bank account to cover the bill when it arrives.
Many banks allow new cardholders to choose their due date, and that can be a smart move. If you get paid on the 15th and 30th of each month, making your due date a few days later will make it easier to pay the balance in full. Interest charges can really pile up, so paying the bill in full is an essential part of responsible credit card use.
Another aspect of responsible credit card use is keeping a close eye on your statement. With so many security breaches in the news, it has never been more important for cardholders to check their statements and report any unauthorized charges they find. Do not ignore small charges; some scammers charge a dollar or two to test the card before making bigger purchases.
No one is born knowing how to use credit wisely. Whether you are seeking your first credit card or using your existing one, you need to keep careful track of how much you spend and guard your financial information carefully.