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How to apply for your first credit card

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

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Our pick if you're new to credit: Petal® Visa® Credit Card

Petal® Visa® Credit Card logo

No credit required

  • No fees and $0 annual fee
  • Get up to 10% back from select merchants
  • Earn up to 1.5% cash back after meeting responsible spending requirements
Apply now

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.

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.

  • I don’t have a social security number.

    There are a selection of credit cards available that don’t require a SSN for application. You could also apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number before applying for credit cards.

Our pick if you're new to credit: Petal® Visa® Credit Card

Petal® Visa® Credit Card logo

No credit required

  • No fees and $0 annual fee
  • Get up to 10% back from select merchants
  • Earn up to 1.5% cash back after meeting responsible spending requirements
Apply now

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 for no credit history

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
N/A
17.39% variable
$35
Apply for this card with no credit check if you're new to credit or have bad credit.
Jasper Mastercard®
N/A
15.49% variable
$0
Credit card for professionals relocating to America without a US credit history.
CardMatch™ from creditcards.com
See terms
See issuer's website
See terms
Use the CardMatch tool to find cards you're likely to qualify for with your credit score, without a hard pull on your credit.
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card
N/A
24.9% fixed
$0 to $99
The Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card is specifically designed for those with less than perfect credit.
Petal® Visa® Credit Card
Up to 10% cash back from select merchants, on other purchases earn 1% back, 1.25% after six on-time payments and 1.5% after 12 on-time payments
12.99% to 29.49% variable
$0
Build your credit with rewards and no fees: Apply if you're new to credit or have a fair to good score.
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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. If finances are a concern, review some of the cheapest credit card options available.

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.

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