Are you wondering how you’re ever going to get your first credit card?
That was one of my first thoughts after I turned 18! I was a mature, and responsible young girl who had been working since the age of 14. I knew enough to know that credit was something really important and I wanted to begin building it as soon and as quickly as possible. The first step in doing that would be getting my hands on my first credit card. However, as you all may already know or are soon going to find out, getting your first credit card at 18, or even in your early 20’s is rather difficult.
It’s a vicious circle. You need to build credit, but you can’t get any credit because you have no credit. Shit makes no sense! I didn’t know too much about credit at the time, which by the way is really something every soon to be adult needs to read up on! Though one thing I had heard before was, it is easier to get a store card when you are taking your first step into the world of credit, than anything else. What do I mean by store card? A store card is a line of credit at a specific store, i.e., a Macy’s card (that was my 2nd ever credit card), a Best Buy card (my 3rd), a JC Penney card, and the list goes on. So with this card and this line of credit you can shop in said store, and in said store only. That is the difference between a store credit card, and a credit card. A regular credit card is going to be either a Mastercard, Visa, American Express, etc., and any of those cards can be used anywhere any of those companies are accepted, which is virtually everywhere.
So I began applying for store cards. Every single store that offered me one, I applied to. This was mistake number one. I was so desperate to get my first credit card that I went ape shit crazy applying for them, with no clue that applying for too many lines of credit will reflect negatively on your credit report, making it even more difficult for you to get approved. So avoid my mistake, and pick and choose carefully what stores you are going to apply to! Most likely your going to get denied the first time. I applied to Victoria’s Secret 4 times before finally getting approved and obtaining my first line of credit. Now, I could be wrong but I believe that because I applied multiple times over a span of a few months this eventually helped me get approved. I will also admit that I fibbed a little on my final application, which probably also helped lead to my long awaited approval. I am NOT encouraging you to lie, but I am also not going to lie to you either. I inflated my annual income on my credit application a little bit, which like I said was probably a helpful deciding factor for my approval. Although I wasn’t aware back when I did this, I am aware now that this is high key ILLEGAL. You can in fact face fraud charges for lying on a credit application. However most people who get caught are the people who are claiming $20,000 in income on their tax return, and claimed $80,000 in income on their credit application. Please, do not lie on your credit application, but if you insist on it, I recommend not extending your income by more than $5,000 to be on the safe side.
Most likely your first credit card is going to have a low credit line. Victoria’s Secret only gave me $500 worth of credit. I was jealous because my friend had already got approved for her own Victoria’s Secret card and she was approved for $1,000. There is no specific formula when it comes to credit, and nobody is going to get the same results, so if your first credit line is low, as long as you use it wisely, make your payments on time, and don’t carry a balance you will most likely soon see a credit limit increase. For example, the third credit card I ever got was a Best Buy card, I used the card to purchase a new laptop for college. After I made 6 months worth of payments on time I received an email one day saying that Best Buy was going to increase my credit line from $1,000 to $1,500 based on my good payment history.
If you do not have any luck with obtaining a store credit card, my next suggestion would be a secured card. A secured card is basically a credit card with a safety net. Almost anyone can get a secured card, and all you have to do is make a one time deposit on said card. The amount of the deposit will vary, but I’ve seen some as low as $50. The deposit ensures that you have cash flow, are serious about a credit card, and also guarantees that if you end up not making payments and allowing you account to fall into collections (which is VERY bad) the credit card company will at least get a portion of their money back. All major credit card companies will offer a secured card. Once you have used your secured card for several months, made payments on time, and haven’t carried too high of a balance it is more than likely that the credit company will increase your limit and either refund your deposit or credit it towards your account. This helps build your credit, and when it is time to apply for a standard credit card you will most likely get approved.
If going the route of a secured card doesn’t sound fun to you or isn’t an option, maybe you consider finding a co-signer. A great trick to build your credit so you can eventually get your first credit card at a young age, is to take out a small personal loan, maybe $1,000 with someone else as as co-signer. A potential co-signer can be anyone, but most likely anyone willing to co-sign would be a parent, or other family member at your age, or maybe if you are a bit older and have a serious boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse they would be willing. Instead of spending the money, you are going to hold the money in an account and use it to pay back the loan every month. Once the loan is paid back, you should see a huge impact on your credit score, and you will have an easier time getting approved for a credit card.
Once you get the ball rolling with your first credit card, and you begin building your credit, and you maintain your balances and payments you will soon find that it will become much easier to obtain new credit cards in the future! I got my very first credit card at the age of 18, I just turned 21 last month, and I now have 11 open credit cards (don’t worry guys, I only actually use 1 of them), I have opened and closed one small personal loan, and my credit score is in the mid 700’s which is considered good to very good in the world of credit.
Whether your 18, 19, 20, 21 and up getting your first credit card can be extremely frustrating. Don’t let that discourage you! You will get your first credit card eventually! Once you get it make sure you maintain your credit, and continue to build your credit history and score! I cannot stress enough how important it is in your adult years to have good credit. I feel like this is topic that is not taught enough by any means, whether it be by parents or in the school system. I haven’t used slope in 6 years, but I still have Y=MX+B engrained in me, yet I didn’t know squat about credit when I set off into the real world after graduation. Like 2% of graduates are going to end up needing knowledge of slope in order to enter into their desired career path, EVER graduate needs to know about credit.