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Getting Your First Credit Card: The Dos and Don’ts

Ready to make the big leap into the land of credit? Credit cards offer great ways to earn points and rewards, get peace of mind for emergencies, and build your credit history. But credit cards can also come with surprise fees, high interest rates, and a scary cycle of debt.
 
Do your homework and in no time you’ll be spending with confidence. Just remember, you have to be at least 18 with a steady income to apply for your own credit card.
 
DO
  1. Look for a card with good benefits. Compare offers such as cash back and travel rewards to see what makes the most sense for your spending habits. Student and secured cards are also good options for first-time cardholders.
  2. Read the fine print. Make sure you understand what the terms and conditions are before you apply, especially regarding features like fees and payment schedules.
  3. Pay off your entire bill every month. It’s pretty simple. If you plan to spend more than you can afford, don’t apply for a credit card. By paying off your balance every month, you’ll avoid paying any interest and going into debt.
 
DON’T
  1. Pay a fee for your card. Credit cards with annual fees aren’t necessarily a bad idea, as they often come with many perks. But at this stage in your life, basic is better.
  2. Spend more than 30% of your credit limit. Say you have a $1,000 limit. You don’t want to have a balance of more than $300 at any given time. It’s not the end of the world if you do, but don’t make a habit of it, as this is an important aspect of your credit score.
  3. Apply for multiple cards at once. Many credit applications over a short period of time will reflect poorly on your credit score. Do your research and apply for the one card you really want.
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