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How To Apply For Your First Credit Card
Your first credit card could be the gateway to building your credit and opening up your financial options.
You may have decided to apply for your first credit card for a range of reasons. Maybe you’ve decided that you want to establish a credit history, and know that one of the easy ways to do that is by having a credit card. They can also be really handy for meeting the up-front cost of various transactions, such as reserving a hotel room, paying for meals out or spreading the cost of larger purchases.
Use this guide to find out what you need to know before making your first-time credit card application.
3 questions to ask before you apply for your first credit card
Before you apply for a credit card that meets your needs, keep in mind that there will be a lot of considerations to make. Some of the initial questions to ask yourself include:
1. Do I have a credit history?
Generally, a bank will only accept credit card applications from people who can prove they have been responsible when managing credit in the past. That said, more leniency is often given to those who are applying for a credit card for the first time, such as students who won’t have had much time to build up a credit history. If you do have concerns about your credit, there are steps to take to improve your score. Our guide has more details.
2. Is my income stable?
Banks and financial institutions would screen your personal details before they grant you a new credit card. They could ask you to submit numerous documents for your application, so you have to be prepared. Factors typically considered include your salary and providers will often ask you to show your last three months’ payslips.
3. Can I pay back everything I borrow?
Taking out a credit card can be the first step in opening up your financial options in the longer term. If, for example, 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. However, if you don’t use your credit card with a great deal of care, you could be exposed to debt problems and long-term credit issues. One of the first steps to ensure the sensible management of your credit card is to meet the card’s minimum payment each month (ideally, you should aim to pay back the debt in full by each bill’s due date).
What else might I want to think about?
- I’m a student.
If you are a student many credit card companies offer a first credit card. Check out some student credit card options. This card will probably have a low limit to help ensure that you do not overspend. See some low credit limit credit cards.
- I don’t want to change banks.
Your current bank may have a credit card they offer to their patrons. It may require that you keep at least one open account as long as you have the credit card.
- I want to be rewarded as I spend.
When used sensibly, credit cards offer a great way to get something back on your everyday spending. For example, there are a number of credit cards which can lower the cost of your shopping bills. Find out more in our guide to grocery store cards. When comparing cards, make sure you weigh up any cardholder perks with any drawbacks such as a high rate of interest.
You can choose from various types of credit cards and take advantage of offered features.
These are a few of the types of credit card features that you want to consider with a first credit card application:
Do keep in mind that these features would differ from one financial institution to another. Make sure that you compare each feature first before you make up your mind for the appropriate credit card right for you.
Just in case you are declined with your first credit card application, do not lose hope because you could still apply for it again. You just have to wait for the right time and make sure that your credentials meet the bank’s requirements.
How to maintain your credit standing with your first credit card
Most people’s first credit card often establishes their credit history. It is important that you do this on a positive note, don’t overspend and make sure you pay all of your bills on time.
- You might have this credit card for a long time. Having a line of credit for a long period is good for your credit history so you will want to make sure that this relationship remains strong by keeping your balance low and your payments regular.
- Often, because newcomers are a risk, banks will give them higher interest rates. You should be aware of this and the long-term cost of carrying a balance. Once you have established a good credit history you should see if you are eligible for a reduction in your interest rate or if another card with lower interest is suitable.
When it comes to personal finance there are few things more important than the establishment of your first credit card. Being responsible with it is the key to building up your future credit rating.
Start a credit card comparison
When you’re ready to apply for a credit card for the first time, use the table below to compare rates, fees and rewards. Use the check boxes to shortlist cards and then compare the relevant information side-by-side.
More guides on Finder
How long does it take to get a credit card?
Learn about the factors behind how long it takes for you to get a new credit card.
How to check your credit card application status
We’ll help you check your credit card application progress with major banks and give you tips for the application process.
Credit cards for retired applicants
Find out what you need to do to apply for a credit card if you’re a retiree. Plus, how to compare credit cards to find one that suits your needs.
How to apply for a credit card if you’re self-employed
Are you self employed? Learn the typical requirements for applying for a credit card with our clear guide.
Why was my credit card application rejected?
Securing a credit card isn’t always easy. Even if you don’t have bad credit, your application can be rejected for another reason. Let this guide help you ensure that your next application isn’t rejected.
How old do I have to be to apply for a credit card?
Find out how old you need to be to apply for a credit card or use a card as an additional cardholder, and what alternatives are available for applicants under 21.
Do I meet the minimum income for a credit card?
Find out how much you need to earn each year to apply for a credit card and compare low income credit cards here.
Can I get a credit card without a bank account?
While most people tend to get a credit card from the same bank where they hold a transaction account, it is possible to get one from another bank.