//Your First Credit Card: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

When is the right time to get a credit card? That really depends on the individual. Many students today get their first credit card when they go to college. Usually it’s because there’s a credit card company on campus offering a free mug or t-shirt to anyone who fills out an application.

Getting free stuff probably isn’t the best reason to apply for a credit card. Unlike your credit union, these types of companies are not member-owned and usually charge super-high interest rates.

Why should someone get a credit card? A credit card can help you establish a credit history, as well as provide a source for cash in an emergency. (FYI — a shopping spree at American Eagle isn’t an emergency.)

Used properly, a credit card can help you learn financial responsibility and independence. However, if you’re not careful, a credit card is a quick way to create long-lasting debt. Here are a few things to remember to help you avoid the “dark side” of credit cards:

  • Credit cards shouldn't be used for items you can't afford.
  • You should only charge what you can afford to pay back.
  • Pay your credit card bills on time to avoid compounding interest charges.
  • Pay your credit card bills in full, or at least an amount more than the minimum payment due.
  • Always notify card issuers when you move so that your statements can be delivered promptly, avoiding fees and interest payments.

Regardless of your age when you get your first credit card, these are helpful hints everyone carrying a credit card should remember.

Back to Articles