Having a credit card provides a simple way to keep track of your monthly purchases, earn rewards on fuel, travel, and gas, and monitor your cash flow. Whether you plan to pay it off every month or will carry a balance, it’s a good idea to understand the application process. If you’re wondering how to get a credit card for the first time, here are some tips on navigating the process.
- Know the Basics: The requirements for applying for a credit card are pretty simple: If you’re over 18, have a job and a good track record of monthly payments on an account such as a student loan or car loan, you’re eligible to apply for a line of credit or credit card with a bank, credit card company or a retail merchant. In most cases, you’ll need to provide your personal information, proof of US citizenship, and your Social Security number on the application, along with proof of employment and banking information.
- Shop Around. With so many first credit card options out there, it’s important to shop around and compare them to find the best one for your financial goals and current situation. Some cards offer incentives such as annual cashback, travel miles, and gas discounts that can be very valuable over time. Be sure to look at interest rates, rewards, and other card benefits, such as cash back and travel vouchers before you apply.
- Check Your Credit Score. Even if you’ve never had a credit card, you’ve likely been building a credit history already thanks to student loans and car payments. Many banks and major credit reporting companies now offer annual credit reports for free to consumers, making it easy to track your progress and see what you can do to keep improving and building upon your credit. Check with your bank to learn more.
- Consider a Co-Signer. If you’re worried about being rejected for a card based on your age, previous debt issues, or your current financial situation, consider asking a friend or family member to co-sign on the application for you. This can be a great way to build up your credit for the first time or to repair a damaged credit record.
- Start Applying! With most cards, you can now complete the application online and receive a decision instantly. Keep in mind that even if you are initially pre-approved for an offer, you will likely still need to submit supporting financial documents before receiving the formal offer of credit with the interest rate and credit limit included. Don’t be discouraged if you receive a denial for the first card that you apply for - you may need to apply for a different type of card, or utilize a secured line of credit, which can help build your credit score over time.