Created by: Dave Harland | 2 September 2019

How to get your first credit card

Credit cards work in the same way as debit cards but the money doesn’t come directly out of your bank account. Instead, you’re allocated a set amount of funds within your credit card account - known as your credit line - which you can spend as you wish.

Each month, you receive a statement showing what you’ve spent in the previous month. You’ll need to pay this amount back, by either spreading the payments or paying it all back at once. If you don’t pay it back straight away, you could be charged interest.

Will every credit card accept me?

Unfortunately, no. Credit cards allow you to borrow money so they have to be careful who they offer their services to. Income and credit history will depend on whether you’re accepted.

Don’t panic though as there are plenty of credit cards for those with a short credit history and those who’ve never had a credit card.

How do I choose my first card?

If you’re looking for your first credit card, it can be difficult to decide which one is best for you.

1.    Think about why you want the card
2.    Search for cards that accept people with little or no credit history
3.    Look out for cheaper interest rates
4.    Compare credit cards online to find the best one that suits your needs

The different types of credit cards

If you’ve never had a credit card, you’ll be pleased to know that there are lots of cards designed for you.

Credit-building cards are aimed at first-time borrowers and can help you to establish a credit history.

You’ll need to pay your bill on time and in full every month, never exceed your credit limit and avoid using your credit card to withdraw money. There are also credit cards designed for students.

How much does a credit card cost?

A credit card is free to apply for but there are a number of costs you need to be aware of:

  • The interest rate is how much you need to pay if you borrow money with your card. If you pay your balance off in full every month, you won’t need to pay any interest.
  • Annual or monthly fees for holding the card.
  • Charges for late payments, going over your credit limit, withdrawing cash from an ATM and spending abroad.

How do I apply for my first card?

Usually, you can apply for your chosen card over the phone, online, by post or in person.

If your application has been rejected, it’s important not to apply for the same card again as this could affect your credit rating.

Important things to know

  • When you get a credit card, you’ll have a credit limit which is the maximum amount you can spend on your card at any point.
  • Applying for too many credit cards can affect your credit history.
  • Although it’s possible to have more than one credit card at once, doing so could affect your credit rating.
  • It’s important to not spend more than you can afford to pay back.

A credit card allows you to build up a credit score but picking your first one can be tricky. With lots of options to choose from, it’s important to shop around and be aware of all features, benefits, and charges before applying.

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