One of the best first credit cards is the Capital One Platinum Credit Card. This card has a $0 annual fee and offers high approval odds to people with limited or no credit history. Plus, it doesn’t require a security deposit.
By using a starter card for fixed monthly purchases such as gas or groceries, you can use the card and then set aside the money you usually spend on those items each month to pay the bill.
This allows you to build you credit so you can qualify for unsecured credit and loans in the future. It's also a great way to get you disciplined to spending only what's within your budget.
WalletHub’s best tips for first-time credit card users are: 1) Get a credit card because it’s the easiest way to build credit; 2) set up automatic monthly payments from a bank account because on-time payments fuel credit score improvement; and 3) try to pay your bill in full every month because it will save you money and keep your spending under control.… read full answer
In other words, it is important to get your first credit card as early as possible and then use it responsibly, by spending within your means and not missing due dates. If you do that, you’ll be able to graduate to a great second credit card sooner.
It all starts with picking the right first credit card, though. Most people looking for their first card have limited or no credit history, unless they’ve been an authorized user on a credit card or have a loan. As a result, cards that accept applicants with “limited credit” or “bad credit” are the most popular starter credit cards.
Below, you can find advice on which card to make your first as well as the steps to take for success with everything after that.
Here are some helpful first credit card tips:
Compare credit card offers thoroughly: Your main options include secured cards, which are the easiest to get and require a security deposit, and cards for limited credit, which tend to give slightly better terms and cater to people who have little/no credit experience. It’s important to find the right card right away so you only have to apply once.
Put your needs first: Start with a no annual fee credit card, if you can, and use other terms as a tiebreaker. Rewards are best if you plan to pay your bill in full every month. First credit cards usually have high interest rates, so it’s best to pay in full.
Never max out your spending limit: You don’t have to use your card to build credit. But if you do, it’s important to not overspend. Try to use less than 30% of your available credit. If you’re tempted to overspend, keep the account open but lock the card away.
Never miss a due date: Payment history is one of the most important portions of your credit score. Late payments will cause a lot of damage. But you can avoid ever paying late by setting up automatic monthly payments with your issuer.
Pay in full to avoid interest. Most first credit cards have very high interest rates. But you will only owe interest if you carry a balance from month to month. So, paying your first card’s bill in full each month is not only great for your credit, but it will also save you money.
Watch your utilization: While it is best to use 30% or less of your credit limit, the reality is that a lot of first credit cards have very low limits. Paying your bill multiple times per month can help keep your end-of-month utilization figure low.
Review your monthly statements: Getting into this routine will help you better understand your spending habits. And it will help you avoid getting overcharged if any of the merchants you bought from made a mistake (or if someone used your card fraudulently).
Stick to a budget: Figure out how much you can afford to spend each month and try keep your charges from exceeding that amount. If you do have to carry a balance between months at some point, make a plan for paying off what you owe as quickly as possible.
When you’re in the market for your first credit card, you probably don’t have a credit score yet. But it’s possible you’ve built a bit of credit history through other means. If that’s the case, you could have far more credit card options available to you. You can check your latest credit score for free on WalletHub. It’s also good to check your credit reports, just to make sure there’s nothing inaccurate or suspicious on them.
Once you get a card and begin using it on a regular basis, it’s even more important to monitor your credit to make sure everything is correct. Knowing your credit score will also help you decide when the time is right to graduate to your second credit card.
You can get your first credit card at any time by becoming an authorized user. If you want your own credit card account, you will have to be at least 18 and able to prove you have enough income to afford a credit card.
When you become an authorized user on a primary cardholder’s account, you can make charges (assuming the primary cardholder allows it), but you bear no responsibility for paying the bills. The account also gets added to the authorized user’s credit report, which allows for a head start on building a solid credit history, provided there’s no negative activity on the account. There is no legal restriction on the age of an authorized user, and most credit card issuers don’t have a … read full answerminimum age requirement, either.
Legally, you can get your own credit card account for the first time when you turn 18 years old, as long as you have a verifiable source of independent income. Even if you don’t plan to charge your purchases often, it’s still worthwhile to open a credit card account. You’ll still build credit if you don’t use your card, just not as quickly. The fastest way to build credit would be to charge 1% to 10% of your credit limit per month and pay it off in full.
When to Get Your First Credit Card:
As an authorized user: Any time. You should start building credit as early as possible. While there is no legal minimum age to become an authorized user, some issuers may have their own age requirements.
As a primary cardholder: Once you turn 18 years old and are legally allowed to apply. The Credit CARD Act of 2009 only emphasizes that applicants under 21 need to be able to show that they have enough independent income to afford a credit card.
If you’re older than 18: As soon as possible. Credit building is essential for things like buying cars and houses later in life.
If you’ve been an authorized user on an account in good standing and have a full-time income, you should have little difficulty getting approved for your first credit card. But make sure to focus on cards for people with limited or no credit, to have the best odds of approval.
People with no credit history can also look into secured credit cards, some of which don’t even do a credit check when you apply. You’ll just have to put down a security deposit, usually at least $200, to set your credit limit. This deposit is fully refundable when you close your account without an unpaid balance.
Or, if you’re a student with a part-time income, consider applying for a student credit card. A student credit often comes with better terms and rewards than a regular credit card for limited credit.
Finally, when you get your first credit card, understand that it will also be your most important credit card. If you spend within your means and consistently pay on time, you will eventually qualify for credit cards with better terms and more rewards. If you go the opposite route, it will be more difficult to secure additional credit and you may run up costly debts. To keep an eye on you credit, you can sign up for free credit score updates, right here on WalletHub.
To get a credit card for the first time, you must be at least 18 years old and have enough income to afford monthly credit card payments, in addition to your other expenses. The minimum payments on a starter credit card usually are around $15 per month. The two basic steps involved in getting a credit card for the first time are to: 1) compare credit card offers designed specifically for people with limited or no credit history; and 2) apply for one with no annual fee, if available – rewards and APRs can be the tiebreaker.… read full answer
If you’re at least 21 years old, you can list household income and assets that you have reasonable access to on your credit card application. Younger applicants can only list independent income and assets. But even having a part-time job should provide enough income to get a credit card for the first time. Only people who are at least 18 years old can get their own credit card account. But there is no minimum age for being an authorized user on a credit card, in most cases.
High approval odds are one of the most important things to look for in your first credit card. The sooner you get approved, the sooner you can begin building your credit standing. Getting rejected for a credit card sets you back, both in terms of time and possible damage to your limited credit.
Low fees are another key feature to seek out when getting a credit card for the first time. Starter credit cards generally don’t offer rewards or interest rates worth paying high annual or monthly fees for. So it’s best to make your first credit card one with a $0 annual fee and always pay your monthly bill in full to avoid interest charges.
There are plenty of other things about the process of picking, applying for and getting your first credit that are also important to learn. We’ll walk you through them below, step by step.
How to Get a Credit Card for the First Time:
See if you have a credit report and score. You could have more credit history than you think, perhaps from being an authorized user on a family member’s credit card. This will help you determine how good of a credit card you should shoot for. Check your latest credit score and credit report for free on WalletHub.
Determine whether student credit cards are an option. College students can usually get better first credit cards than other people with no credit. Their youth and above-average expected income make them attractive to banks and credit unions. If you’re enrolled in school, check out the best student credit cards.
Compare secured and unsecured starter cards.Secured credit cards have the highest approval odds, but they require you to place a refundable security deposit. The amount of that deposit becomes your spending limit. Unsecured cards are harder to get but have no deposit.
Limit your search to cards with the lowest fees. Focus on weeding out cards with expensive non-refundable fees. A no annual fee credit card with no security deposit is best. But a low-fee secured card isn’t bad, either. You can get back your deposit when you close your account.
Choose the best remaining offer for your needs. If several credit cards are tied for the lowest fees and highest approval odds, consider the terms that are next most important to you. If you plan to pay your bill in full every month, that will probably be rewards. If not, you may want to focus on interest rates.
Submit your credit card application. Apply online for the fastest decision. You may even be approved instantly if you clearly meet the issuer’s criteria. You should receive your card within 7-10 business days of being approved.
Learning how to get a credit card for the first time is a rite of passage for young adults after turning 18 years old. And it’s a lot easier than you might think. The key is to choose wisely, by focusing on offers for people with limited credit and secured credit cards, which provide nearly guaranteed approval.
It’s also really important to remember that learning how to get a credit card for the first time and getting approved are only the beginning. You also need to use that card responsibly, which means spending within your means, paying your bill on time every month, and keeping your credit utilization below 30%.
If you can avoid racking up costly credit card debt and hurting your credit score with missed payments, your first credit card will be a huge asset. It will add positive information to your major credit reports each month. That will gradually improve your credit standing. And better credit will make it easier to rent an apartment, buy or lease a car, find a job, get approved for good loans and lines of credit and save on car insurance premiums, among other things.
You can track your progress for free on WalletHub, the only site with free credit scores and reports that are updated daily. We’ll even tell you exactly what you need to do to improve your credit score at a given time, plus provide personalized credit card recommendations. You can use them to find your first credit card and then graduate from it when the time is right.
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