If you're new to credit cards, you may not realize just how much variation there is in credit card terms and perks. This is an important point if you hope to do more than just build your credit history. Palmer says that she likes credit cards for the opportunities they can offer consumers to stretch their dollars further.
For example, Palmer continues, if you have a job in which you're traveling a lot, you may want to look for an airline credit card that offers bonus points or miles as well as free traveling perks. If you're going to be using your card for everyday spending, you might look for a rewards credit card that pays cash back for each purchase. Or you may just want a no-frills card with the lowest APR you can find.
"Don't just be satisfied with any offer that drifts into your mailbox," warns Karen Carlson, a financial literacy developer at InCharge Debt Solutions, which offers debt management and credit counseling to consumers who find themselves in over their head--in other words, the type of credit card user you don't want to someday be.
"You have to be aware of the terms, the interest rates, the fees and whatnot," says Carlson, a recent college graduate herself. "There is a tremendous choice of cards out there. You really have to comparison shop for a credit card the same way you would a computer or a cell phone."