Top Six Secrets for Getting – And Managing – Your First Credit Card

Written by on December 20, 2012 in Money - No comments | Print this page


first-credit-cardGetting your first car may be a big milestone – one that makes you feel free and independent. In today’s world, though, getting your first credit card is actually far more important in terms of what it will mean to your long-term financial health. Your first credit card is your chance to build your credit rating as well as good financial habits that will last over a lifetime. When getting your first credit card make sure that you:

1) Get a credit card as early as possible. Thanks to competitiveness in the industry, credit card companies target ever-younger customers. There are preteen credit cards that look and work just like regular charge cards, and credit card companies usually aggressively market to college students. College is an ideal time to get a credit card, as the offers made to students are usually quite good.

2) Compare several credit cards before choosing one. Research carefully and base your decision on rates, terms, places the credit card is accepted, and the perks or benefits of the card. In fact, consider calling several credit card companies and telling them about their competitors’ best rates. One card company may be willing to offer an even better deal to get your business.

3) Read the fine print and be aware of introductory rates. Many credit card companies sign you up because they offer you an introductory offer – such as lots of frequent flyer miles or an initial 0% interest rate. However, what matters is not the initial six-month introductory rate but rather the rate and perks you will have for years. When comparing credit cards, compare the permanent interest rates and terms, not the introductory rates and terms.

4) Plan to have your credit card for a while. When choosing your first credit card, choose a credit card that you will be happy to have for years. The longer you keep your credit card, the more it can help you improve your credit rating. Ideally, you want a card that you will keep permanently.

5) Choose a low limit. You may qualify for a credit card that allows you to charge thousands of dollars, but for a first card a $500 limit is often a good idea. If you’re not familiar with how credit cards work starting with a low limit lets you make sure that you can handle the responsibly before gradually increasing your limit.

6) Develop good financial habits right out of the gate. Do use your credit card, but make it a habit to pay the full amount on your statement — each month and on time. If you’re having trouble remembering to pay your credit card, set up an automatic payment system through your bank.

Getting your first credit card in the mail is exciting. Following a few rules can help ensure that your new card lets you build a lifetime of good financial habits.

This is a guest post.  Sam Jones, the author, has been researching the topic “how do credit cards work” and has found that there’s a huge amount to take in when trying to choose a new card properly.

Image courtesy of adamr /


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