When Should You Get Your First Credit Card?


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Your first credit card won’t just help you shop.

It can also prepare you for the financial stages of your adulthood, such as buying a car or renting an apartment. When you use a credit card responsibly, whether you buy concert tickets or pay for a slice of pizza, you are striving for a good credit score, which will set you up for financial success in the world. to come up.

If you’re feeling ready to get your first credit card, you’ll need to do some research to find out which cards you’re eligible for and whether you need your parents’ help with your application. Here’s everything you need to know to get started.

Are you ready for a credit card?

Getting ready for a credit card isn’t a question of age, according to Beverly harzog, credit card expert and consumer credit analyst for US News and World Report. It’s about being prepared to use the card responsibly. To find out if you’re ready to use a credit card, Harzog says to look at your debit card spending. “If you understand that you have a specific amount of money in your account and you don’t go over that amount, you understand the concepts of how to use plastic,” she says. On the flip side, if your card is declined or your bank charges you overage fees, you will likely need more practice.

Does age matter when signing up for a credit card?

All major credit card issuers require that you be at least 18 years old to independently sign up for a credit card. The same applies if you request a joint account. Additionally, Harzog says issuers generally require applicants under the age of 21 to present proof of income to be eligible.

Having said that, if you are under 18 or under 21 and do not have a constant source of income, you have several options for getting a credit card with the help of your parents.

Can Your Parents Help You Get a Credit Card?

If you can’t get a credit card on your own, there are several ways your parents can help you get a credit card:

  • Authorized user: If you are under 18, you can ask your parent or guardian to add you as an authorized user to their credit card account. All major credit card issuers allow the addition of teens 16 and over, and some do not have a minimum age limit. When you are added as an authorized user, you can get your own card with your name on it and you will be able to spend money up to the credit limit, but you will not receive bills and control the account . Your parents will be responsible for all charges on the card.
  • Joint account: If you are 18 or older, you and your parent or guardian can jointly apply for a credit card. This will give you both equal access to the account and the ability to make purchases, and you will each be responsible for all charges on the card.
  • Co-signer: If you are 18 or older, you can also ask your parent or guardian to co-sign a credit card application, as long as the issuer allows. This can help you get approved if you don’t have a source of income, but it will also make your parents responsible for any debt you incur on the card. Your parent or guardian will have no control over the account and will not be able to close the card at a later date.

However, there are a few issues to be aware of. If your parents don’t have good credit, it’s probably not a good idea to open an account with them, says Tori Dunlap, founder of His first $ 100,000 and host of the Feminist finance podcast. “If you choose to open a credit card with your parents, your own credit score could be affected, so keep that in mind,” she says. This is true whether you become an authorized user, open a joint account, or have your parents co-sign your application.

Harzog says she’s seen these kinds of arrangements end relationships, so you need to be careful. You can actually ruin your parents’ credit if you misuse the credit card, she says. She suggests having a conversation about using the credit card and your budget. You might even want to put something in writing that you and your parents can sign.

How to start slowly

Dunlap says you only have to make a few purchases on your credit card each month to start building a good credit score. In fact, you want to keep your credit utilization rate – the amount of credit you are using out of your total available credit – below 30% at all times. And you should never use your card to buy something you can’t afford to pay in full.

Harzog and Dunlap say it’s a myth that you have to have a balance to build credit. “You just have to pay all your bills on time, have a low balance on your credit cards during the month and pay your entire bill by the due date so you don’t pay interest.” compounds on your purchases, ”says Harzog.

You should also not take out too many credit cards at once, as new credit applications can temporarily affect your credit score. Dunlap says credit card issuers sometimes set up shop on college campuses to try to persuade students to apply. Some kids don’t know any better, so always do your own research. You should avoid cards that charge a high annual fee or have high interest rates.

Pro tip

Start with a cash back card with no annual fee. If you are going abroad, also make sure that the card does not have an overseas transaction fee.

Once you have a credit card, it’s important to regularly check and monitor your credit. This will help you keep your credit score on track and spot any problems as they arise. You can check your credit report with all three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – for free at AnnualCreditReport.com, the only site licensed by federal law to provide free credit reports. If you notice any errors or discrepancies on your credit report, you can dispute them with the credit bureau that issued the report.

How to choose your first credit card

Newbies to credit cards should choose a credit card with no annual fee, says Dunlap. If you plan to travel internationally, you should also make sure that the card you choose does not have an overseas transaction fee. Harzog says the APR (Annual Percentage Rate) shouldn’t matter if you’re paying off your balance in full, but you should always be aware of the APR when comparing credit cards.

If you want to get a card with rewards, you should find a card whose reward structure and benefits match your lifestyle and what would actually help you, says Harzog. For example, don’t ask for a card that earns double points at restaurants if you never dine out. Dunlap says that a simple cash back credit card offers the most flexibility for beginners.

Some credit cards are easier to obtain than others. It is possible to get approval for a student credit card with no credit history, but if you are denied you may want to explore other credit cards for people without credit, including credit cards. secure. With a secured credit card, you or your parents make a deposit that establishes your credit limit.

  • Introductory bonus:

    No current offer

  • Annual subscription :

    $ 0

  • Regular APR:

    12.99% – 26.99% (Variable)

  • Recommended credit:

    (No credit history)

  • Learn more external link icon on the secure site of our partner.
  • Introductory bonus:

    No current offer

  • Annual subscription :

    $ 0

  • Regular APR:

    26.99% (variable)

  • Recommended credit:

    (No credit history)

  • Learn more external link icon on the secure site of our partner.
  • Introductory bonus:

    No current offer

  • Annual subscription :

    $ 0

  • Regular APR:

    22.49% (variable)

  • Recommended credit:

    (No credit history)

  • Learn more external link icon on the secure site of our partner.

Whichever credit card you choose, be sure to use it responsibly by practicing good credit habits. With the right use, a credit card can be the first step in a successful financial journey.

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