Congratulations on getting your first US issued credit card!
It’s exciting to have a credit card that opens the door to new opportunities (hello to renting a car for a weekend getaway) and gives you some financial breathing room. Part of the fun in having your own credit card is knowing that with good use and behavior, you are well on your way to building good credit history.
Start with the Basics
- Don’t max out your credit and never go over your credit limit. Starting out with a small credit limit is good as it actually helps you manage your spending.
- Review your credit card statements and make sure you understand your obligations. If you see any discrepancies or don’t understand something? Call your credit card provider’s customer service hotline and ask for guidance.
- Always make payments on time and at the very least pay the minimum amount due. If you can, pay your balance in full so you are not charged any interest.
- Make sure you aren’t paying unnecessary fees. Late payment and returned payment fees are the most common. These fees are hefty and can easily add up.
- Know your card benefits. Some credit cards come with 0% introductory APR, 1% cash back and fraud protection. These benefits are meant to help you so take advantage of them.
- If you plan to travel abroad and use your credit card, you may be charged foreign transaction fees. Check with your credit card provider and let them know when and where you are traveling so your card also won’t get blocked.
Advanced Tips and Tricks
- Be careful when applying for new credit. When you apply for new credit, lenders will ask the credit bureaus for a copy of your credit report. Applying for several credit cards within a short timeframe makes you seem like a big credit risk and may negatively impact your credit score.
- Closing your credit card may impact your credit score. Don’t close your oldest credit card since it will shorten your credit history. When you also close a credit card, your total available credit line goes down. If you absolutely have to close any of your credit cards, make sure it’s not your oldest one and pay off as much balance on your other credit cards.
- Review your credit reports regularly and report any errors to the credit bureaus. You are entitled to a free copy of one credit report annually. Take your pick from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get your free credit report today.
- Good credit habits are easy to establish. By starting now, you build your good credit history early and you’ll soon be reaping the rewards.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is meant for informational purposes only. Consult a licensed financial services professional if you have questions or concerns.