3 must read first credit card tips before you apply | finder.com
How to apply for your first credit card

How to apply for your first credit card

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Your first credit card can be the gateway to building your credit and will expand your financial options.

Credit cards are needed for simple transactions like reserving a hotel room or making a long-term purchase. But more importantly, you need a credit card simply to establish a credit history. You need to use your credit card wisely to keep a good credit history, as it will be a determining factor of approval for personal and home loan applications.

A great choice for your first card: Deserve Classic

If you have no credit history or FICO score, the Deserve Classic Mastercard offers the perks of a credit card without having to jump through hoops for approval.

  • $39 annual fee
  • No security deposit required
  • Credit limit up to $1,500
Promoted

Tips for applying for your first credit card

Will you be using your credit card to make everyday purchases? Will your payment habits affect if you make timely payments or not? Do you need a credit card with a rewards program? Once you figure out what you’re looking for, you can apply for your first credit card.

Understanding that credit cards are a great responsibility, there are factors to consider:

  • Job stability. Banks and financial institutions screen your qualifications before granting you a credit card, including your job’s stability as well as your salary.
  • Credit history. If you have a previous credit history, banks will check on your standing to set a credit limit and confirm you’ll be able to handle repayments .
  • Personal and financial information. Banks and financial institutions also require you to submit specific documents for your application. Unfortunately for people with no credit history, this can be somewhat challenging as many banks will not want to take a chance on a credit newcomer. An option is to start off with a secured credit card to get your credit history rolling.

If you ever wanted to be able to apply for a personal loan or a home loan, you can do so much easier by applying for a credit card as your initial step.

first credit card applcation

What are the options for my first credit card?

  • I’m a student.

    Many credit card companies offer a first credit card for students. These cards will probably have a low limit to help ensure that you do not overspend.

  • I don’t want to change banks.

    Your current bank more than likely has a credit card they offer to their customers. It may require that you keep at least one open account as long as you have the credit card.

  • I regularly shop at the same stores.

    Department stores and chains also offer credit cards. Be sure to compare these store cards carefully, as they could have high interest rates.


Choose from various types of credit cards and take advantage of offered features.

These are the main types of credit card features that you’ll need to consider with a first credit card application:

Keep in mind that these features would differ from one financial institution to another. Compare each feature first before you make up your mind for the appropriate credit card.

If you are declined with your first credit card application, do not lose hope because you can identify why your credit card application was rejected and apply for it again.

Compare credit cards

Updated October 22nd, 2018
Name Product Credit Score Min. Annual Fee Intro Balance Transfer APR Reward Value per Dollar Secured or Unsecured Annual Fee APR for Purchases (Purchase Rate) Intro APR for Balance Transfer
680
95
0%
1
Unsecured
$95
14.99% to 25.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
680
0%
1
Unsecured
$0
14.99% to 25.99% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
680
550
1
Unsecured
$550
None (Charge Card)
Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Rates & Fees
680
0%
1.5
Unsecured
$0
14.99% to 25.99% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
Earn up to $250 back. Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn an additional $100 back after you spend an additional $6,500 in purchases within your first 12 months. You will receive the cash back in the form of a statement credit. Rates & Fees
720
0%
Unsecured
$0
13.99% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then to variable)
A low, variable APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.
680
0%
1.5
Unsecured
$0
14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable)
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees.
680
0%
Unsecured
$0
12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99% variable
0% for the first 18 months (then 12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99% variable)
An 18-month 0% Intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees
680
1
Unsecured
$0
17.74% to 26.74% variable
Earn 10,000 Bonus Miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Rates & Fees
680
95
1
Unsecured
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.74% to 26.74% variable
30,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
680
95
2
Unsecured
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.74% to 26.74% variable
Enjoy a $0 annual fee on the first year and earn up to 2 Starpoints® for every dollar of eligible purchases. Rates & Fees
680
95
3
Unsecured
$95
17.74% to 26.74% variable
Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Rates & Fees
680
3
Unsecured
$0
17.74% to 26.74% variable
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Rates & Fees
715
495
0%
1
Unsecured
$495
16.99% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then to variable)
Mastercard Black Card members receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
195
0%
1
Unsecured
$195
16.99% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then to variable)
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
715
995
0%
2
Unsecured
$995
16.99% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 16.99% variable)
Earn points every time you spend. Luxury Card enhances your purchasing power by providing you with one (1) point for every one dollar ($1) you spend. Every purchase gets you closer to the rewards you want.
620
39
Unsecured
$39
24.99% variable
Designed to help build credit history with no deposit required and access to benefits.
620
99
Unsecured
$75 annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
23.9% variable
With this card you get a 23.9% Variable APR.
300
48
0%
Unsecured
$75 annual fee for the first year ($48 thereafter)
29.99% variable
The First Access Card is a true VISA® credit card that does not require perfect credit for approval.
300
Unsecured
Up to
19.74% to 25.74% variable
Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV, terms apply.
720
0%
1
Unsecured
$0
15.24% to 25.24% variable
0% for the first 12 statement closing dates (then 15.24% to 25.24% variable)
Earn more cash back for the things you buy most.
720
95
1
Unsecured
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.74% to 24.74% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
720
450
1
Unsecured
$450
17.74% to 24.74% variable
Earn 50,000 BONUS POINTS after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening* — that's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
690
0%
1.5
Unsecured
$0
16.74% to 25.49% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 16.74% to 25.49% variable)
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic. No minimum to redeem for cash back.
680
95
1.5
Unsecured
$95
17.74% to 24.74% variable
Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
690
0%
1.5
Unsecured
$0
14.74%, 20.74% or 24.74% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.74%, 20.74% or 24.74% variable)
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
690
0%
1
Unsecured
$0
16.74% to 25.49% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 16.74% to 25.49% variable)
Earn 5% Cash back in bonus categories up to $1,500 every quarter. Earn 1% Cash back on all other purchases.
680
1.5
Unsecured
$0
16.99% to 24.99% variable
for the first 12 months (then 16.99% to 24.99% variable)
An intro offer rewards cardholders with a $250 value (25,000 online bonus points) after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening
680
0%
Unsecured
$0
16.74% to 25.49% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 16.74% to 25.49% variable)
Jumpstart your financial fitness! 60 day introductory balance transfer offer, save on interest, and get your free monthly credit score.
750
95
2
Unsecured
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
14.74%, 21.24% or 24.74% variable

Compare up to 4 providers

Maintain your credit standing with your first credit card

As we’ve stated, most peoples first credit card often establishes your credit history, so it important to pay attention to a few things.

  • Do not overspend and pay all of your bills on time.
  • Having a line of credit for a long period is good for your credit history, so keep your balance low and your payments regular.
  • Banks often give newcomers higher interest rates, so be aware of this and the long-term cost of carrying a balance. Once you have established a good credit history, see if you are eligible for an interest rate reduction or shop around for new card.

When it comes to personal finance there are few things more important then the establishment of your first credit card. Being responsible with it is the key to your future credit rating.

Kyle Morgan

Kyle Morgan is a producer for finder.com who has worked for the USA Today network and Relix magazine, among other publications. He can be found writing about everything from the latest car loan stats to tips on saving money when traveling overseas. He lives in Asbury Park, where he loves exploring new places and sipping on hoppy beer. Oh, and he doesn't discriminate against buffalo wings — grilled or fried are just fine.

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US Credit Card Offers

Important Information*
Deserve® Classic Card
Deserve® Classic Card

APR

24.49
variable

Annual fee

0 For the first year
More info
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™

APR

16.74
variable

Annual fee

995 For the first year
More info
First Access Visa Card®
First Access Visa Card®

APR

29.99
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card

APR

23.9
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
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