How to Get Your First Credit Card
Feb 27, 2024 By Triston Martin

It's a huge step forward and a major lifestyle shift when you get your first credit card. You might already know how credit cards function and how to handle a credit card properly, but the devil is in the details. You may save money and establish good credit more quickly if you take the time to learn the ins and outs before you start.

The greatest credit cards are inappropriate for those just starting to use credit. If you're starting in the credit world, you probably won't be approved for the best credit cards (those with the best rewards, benefits, sign-up bonuses, and introductory APRs). The best products are reserved for people with great credit (690+) and lengthy credit history, in addition to meeting other financial criteria.

If this is your first time applying for a credit card, you may need to start small by applying for a card designed for those with little or no credit history. However, it is okay news; many cards come with generous rewards and no annual fees. Here are some potential choices:

People with poor credit

People with poor credit or no credit history can benefit from secured credit cards. It is necessary to make an initial cash deposit to start an account. Most of the time, your credit limit will be the same as your first investment. Depending on the card type, the required minimum deposit could be anywhere from $200 to $500. A bigger deposit typically translates to a higher credit limit on a secured card.

If you become behind on your payments, you risk losing this deposit. Credit can be established quickly if payments are made on time and balances are kept substantially below the limit. You can either apply for a new, unsecured credit card and close the secured one, or your card issuer may decide to convert your account to an unsecured one. There are two scenarios in which your initial payment would be returned to you. The reported information includes whether your payments have been on time and how much of your available credit you've spent. Late payments are bad. Maxing out the card is terrible.

What it costs each year to issue the card to new customers

Yearly percentage rate (APR). Balances carried over from month to month will incur interest at this rate. In some cases, the interest rate charged on a credit card balance varies depending on whether the balance is from a purchase, a balance transfer, or a cash advance (cash withdrawn with the card, usually at an ATM). A small percentage of cards charge penalty APRs for late payments.

Avoiding credit card fees

Even if you're starting with credit, here are some ways to keep yourself from incurring fees. Several great starter cards don't require you to pay anything yearly, including several secured cards. If payments are made on time, late charges will not be a problem.

It is not necessary to pay interest. Expenses that can be avoided, in other words: If you pay off your credit card balance in full each month, it doesn't matter how high your annual percentage rate (APR) is. A grace period on your credit card is to blame for it. Once you've paid off your balance in full, additional charges won't be subject to interest until the next billing cycle. If you use your credit card for purchases and pay off your balance in full every month, you'll never have to worry about interest charges. You will never have to pay interest if you can maintain this rate.

Make a Larger Payment than the Required Amount

The minimum payment is displayed prominently on your monthly statement to keep your credit card account in good standing. Indeed, that may cause some consternation. One interpretation of this is a helpful suggestion: "You can pay the whole amount, but you could also get away with paying this considerably smaller amount!"

In most cases, putting off costs today will result in considerably higher costs. The minimum payment is usually only enough to pay the interest and fees (if any) for the previous month and only a fraction of the principal. Simply making the minimum payment will only reduce your credit card balance. In most respects, you are merely surviving. It's easy to rack up an unmanageable balance on a credit card if you keep using it.