If you're reviewing credit card applications for the first time, you could find yourself overwhelmed with competing offers, perks, and fine print. I can suggest a few card styles that can narrow down your selection process.
Being a first-time credit card holder doesn't mean you're limited to just the worst deals on the market. Many banks recognize their opportunity to lock in your loyalty by offering you an account that can evolve as your track record improves. Your credit score improves as your oldest open account ages, so look for a lender you'll want to do business with for the next ten years, or longer.
Getting the most value from your credit card means finding an account that rewards you for making everyday purchases, and for paying down your balance at the end of each cycle. I suggest narrowing your search to one of these four styles of credit cards:
- Rewards credit cards. Even with no prior accounts, you can still qualify for an account that lets you trade rewards points for products and services you use every day.
- Cash back credit cards. Reap all the benefits of a new credit card with a solid cash back rebate deal.
- Student credit cards. Your college enrollment status can swing you an even better deal on your first credit card.
- Secured credit cards. If you have absolutely no credit history, you may have to leave a few hundred dollars on deposit with a sympathetic lender. It's a cheaper move than a "fee harvester card."
Before you apply, clarify your game plan. You'll get the most from any credit card if you use it for security and rewards instead of for justifying expenses beyond your budget.
- So, I am about to turn 18. I may need about $100 or so each month to cover the remainder of my rent. What type of card should I be looking to get?
- I am 24, I work full time, I have never had a credit card. I want a credit card that will have no annual fee and give me rewards back.
- I'm in my late 20s with a credit score of 680. I'm looking to get my first credit card, one with cash back rewards.