How to Get Your First Credit Card and How Old You Should Be

Credit cards are one of the best ways to build good credit history that will one day help you purchase a car or home. When used irresponsibly, however, they can quickly do more harm than good.

The Smart Time to Apply for Credit Cards

The most important aspect of credit to remember is that you have to repay everything you charge — plus interest and sometimes fees. So, unless you have incredible self-control, getting a credit card is probably not a good idea until you’re earning enough income to repay your balance.

Many young adults choose to get their first credit cards after graduation or once they snag their first full or part-time job.

Until age 18, you need a co-signer, like a parent or guardian, to get a credit card. Minors can sometimes access credit, if a parent is willing to add them as an authorized card holder on one of their own credit cards.

If you do this, be sure your parents have good credit because, with your name tied to their account, their late payments or high balances could negatively affect your own credit score.

Applying for Credit Cards with No Credit History

If you have no credit history and no full-time job, getting approved for a credit card can be a challenge. You need credit history to get a credit card but need a credit card to build credit history.

If you find yourself in this predicament, stop by your local credit union or bank where you have a checking and/or savings account.

Local institutions, like these, often provide their members or customers with credit card products that will help you build a good credit history, without burying you in credit card fees.