Getting Your First Credit Card: The Do’s and Don’ts
Are you ready to jump into the world of credit? The first impression of using a credit card can be a little intimidating, because of the surprise fees, high interest rates, and the scary cycle of debt. However, using credit cards helps you build your credit history and offers many ways to earn points and rewards, while also having a temporary solution for those unexpected costs.
Doing your due diligence before opening any credit card is important, so you fully understand what you are getting into. Also remember, all credit card issuers will not offer credit to anyone under 18 or anyone with a steady stream of income.
Search for a card with good benefits. Compare offers, such as cash back and travel rewards, to see what’s suitable to your spending habits. Student and secured cards are also good options for first-time cardholders, as they generally offer less risk since they are backed by a deposit account you already have.
- Read the fine print. Credit cards include features such as annual fees and a payment schedule. It is very important understand what the terms and conditions entail before you make the final decision to apply.
- Pay off your entire bill every month. It’s a simple task. If you plan to spend more than you can afford, don’t apply for a credit card. By paying off your balance every month, you’ll avoid paying any interest and going into debt.
- Pay a fee for your card. Many credit cards require an annual fee that is added to your card balance. While those cards generally come with additional perks, such as access to an airport lounge or free takeout deliveries, it’s better to keep it simple when you’re first starting out.
- Spend more than 30% of your credit limit. Say you have a $1,000 limit. You don’t want to have a balance of more than $300 at any given time. This will likely impact your credit score, and it’s a good habit to keep your balance at 30% or less at any given time. You don’t want to end up “maxing out,” and only being able to afford the minimum monthly payment.
- Apply for multiple cards at once. Many credit applications over a short period of time will reflect poorly on your credit score. Do your research and apply for the one card that best fits your lifestyle and needs.
If you’re ready to apply for a credit card, UNCLE Credit Union has a variety of credit card options to fit your needs, including Choice Rewards, Platinum, and Secured Platinum. To learn more about credit cards, visit www.unclecu.org/creditcards, or visit a Financial Center near you to get started.