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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.

Deserve® Classic Card

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

    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

    Rates last updated June 19th, 2018
    Name Product APR for Purchases ( Purchase Rate ) Intro APR for Balance Transfer Annual fee Product Description
    Amex EveryDay® Credit Card
    14.74% to 25.74% variable
    0% Intro APR for 15 months
    $0
    Earn 15000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
    Deserve® Classic Card
    24.49% variable
    $39
    Designed to help build credit history with no deposit required and access to benefits.
    Apply now Read review
    Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card
    14.74% to 24.74% variable
    0% Intro APR for 12 statement closing dates (with whichever is greater, $10 or 3% balance transfer fee)
    $0
    Earn more cash back for the things you buy most.
    Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
    14.74% to 25.74% variable
    0% Intro APR for 15 months (with whichever is greater, $5 or 3% balance transfer fee)
    $0
    Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive the $150 back in the form of a statement credit.
    Luxury Card Mastercard® Black Card™
    16.49% variable
    0% Intro APR for first 15 billing cycles (with whichever is greater, $5 or 3% balance transfer fee)
    $495
    Mastercard Black Card members receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
    Apply now Read review
    Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card
    17.49% to 24.49% variable
    $0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
    Earn 50000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of your account opening, and an additional 30,000 points when you spend a total of $30,000 on purchases within the first year of your account opening.
    Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card
    23.9% variable
    $75 annual fee for the first year ($0 to $99 thereafter)
    With this card you get a 23.9% variable APR.
    Apply now Read review
    The First Access VISA® Credit Card
    29.99% variable
    $75 annual fee for the first year ($48 thereafter)
    Access credit even if you have poor or limited credit history.
    Apply now Read review
    Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™
    16.49% variable
    0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles (with the amount of each transfer, $5 or 3% balance transfer fee)
    $995
    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.
    Apply now Read review
    Chase Sapphire Reserve®
    17.49% to 24.49% variable
    $450
    Earn 50000 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®.
    Credit One Bank® Visa® with Free Credit Score Tracking
    17.49% to 25.49% variable
    $0 to $75 first year annual fee for the first year ($0 to $99 thereafter)
    Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV, terms apply.
    Apply now Read review
    Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card
    14.74% to 24.74% variable
    0% Intro APR for 12 months (with whichever is greater, $5 or 3% balance transfer fee)
    $95
    Earn 15000 Membership Rewards Points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
    Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card
    16.49% to 25.24% variable
    $0
    Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase – it's automatic. No minimum to redeem for cash back.
    Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
    17.49% to 24.49% variable
    $95
    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.
    Quicksilver® from Capital One®
    14.24%, 19.24% or 24.24% variable
    0% Intro APR for 15 months (with 3% balance transfer fee)
    $0
    Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
    Chase Freedom® credit card
    16.49% to 25.24% variable
    0% Intro APR for 15 months (with whichever is greater, $5 or 5% balance transfer fee)
    $0
    Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
    Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
    16.49% to 24.49% variable
    $0
    20,000 online bonus points offer. Ditch the restrictions of typical airline rewards cards. Any airline, any hotel, anytime. No blackout dates.
    Chase Slate® Credit Card
    16.49% to 25.24% variable
    0% Intro APR for 15 months (with $0 for transfers in first 60 days. Then $5 or 5% balance transfer fee)
    $0
    Jumpstart your financial fitness! 60 day introductory balance transfer offer, save on interest, and get your free monthly credit score.
    Venture® from Capital One®
    14.49%, 20.49% or 24.49% variable
    $0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
    Earn 50000 bonus miles once after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
    HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card
    14.49%, 18.49% or 24.49% variable
    0% Intro APR for 15 months (with whichever is greater: $10 or 4% balance transfer fee)
    $0
    Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases.

    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 writer and editor 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

    16.49
    variable

    Annual fee

    995 For the first year
    More info
    The First Access VISA® Credit Card
    The First Access VISA® Credit 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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