Turning 18 can be exciting as you legally become an adult. Not only can you vote or set off on your own for college, you can also finally get a credit card. But it takes more than reaching the legal age to do this responsibly. You have to consider a few things carefully to get the right credit card for your specific needs.
Determine Your Credit Card Purpose
In order to choose your first credit card wisely, you have to decide on what it’s going to be used primarily for. The Balance lists the different types of credit cards, and it’s recommended to do extensive research on each one of them to find out which one’s the best card for you and your needs. Usually, a good first credit card is the standard option or the student credit card. The former offers basic features and terms, while the latter is specifically designed for students who have little or no credit history. Some student credit cards offer additional features like low-interest rates and rewards.
Consider Your Spending Habits
Including your spending habits in deciding on a credit card can help you maximize the rewards it can offer. CNBC Select features how different major credit card issuers classify bonus category purchases. Most companies cover purchases like travel, dining, groceries, and gas, for bonus rewards. Others would even include online and traditional entertainment services like streaming, movie theaters, sporting events, concerts, tourist attractions, and the like. So, choose which ones you think you’ll be spending on most often so you can take full advantage of the returns.
Evaluate the Terms and Fees
It’s important to make time for reading everything that’s involved in each credit card option you’re considering, as some might cost you a lot more on fees. Petal Card points out that there are over a dozen different types of credit card fees out there, but the good news is that most of them are preventable if you do your research. Usage fees and penalty fees, for instance, can be avoided by not using the card’s optional features like cash advance and credit limit increase, and of course, by paying your dues on time. Meanwhile, those that require extra levels of service like requests for paper statements and additional cards, can be avoided just by sticking to the basic services offered as much as possible.
Review the Qualifying Requirements
Other than being 18, or even 21 for some, issuers have other qualifying requirements before you can apply for a credit card. The basic requirements include a verifiable source of income, social security number, and a positive credit history. Some may even require a parent’s permission if you’re under 21 and don’t have your own source of income. Once you’ve decided on a credit card type and issuer, and have met their requirements, you can start applying for your chosen credit card, which you can easily do online.
Since this will be your first credit card, don’t forget to have it activated before using it. Many banks like Citibank offer convenient ways to do this, such as via internet banking, a mobile app, or telephone customer service. Once you’ve activated your credit card, you’re good to go — but keep in mind to use it responsibly.