Finance

7 Features To Look for in Your First Credit Card

Getting your first credit card is a major milestone and something you shouldn’t take lightly. There are so many options out there, so it can be difficult to pick the right one. Ultimately, it’s important to choose a credit card that’ll help you build a secure financial future. Here are seven features you should look for in your first card.

Credit Card

1. Low Eligibility Requirements

Since this is your first credit card, you may not have a good credit score yet. In fact, you might not have a credit history at all. Because of this, you might struggle to qualify for a credit card. And if you apply to multiple cards, it’ll hurt your credit score. Instead of a shotgun approach, you should look for one designed for customers looking to build or repair their credit.

For example, a credit builder card is a great option to dip your toes into credit. These cards work like a regular credit card, so you can make purchases and pay your bills. The main difference is that they require a deposit upfront, which will be the same amount as the credit limit. This deposit works as a safeguard for the bank, and it can help prevent you from acquiring debt.

2. Low Interest Rates

When choosing a credit card, make sure you’re aware of interest rates. Some banks will advertise introductory rates to attract users. While these rates are usually very low, maybe even 0%, they don’t last forever.

Once the introductory period is over, you’ll be forced to pay the regular interest rate. So make sure your decision isn’t solely based on a credit card’s introductory or promotional rate.

Before signing up for a credit card, find out what kind of interest rate you’ll qualify for. The better your credit score, the lower your interest rate. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shop around. Chances are, regardless of your score, you’ll find banks who will offer lower or higher interest rates than others.

3. No Additional Fees

Credit cards can be incredibly beneficial, but they can also wreak havoc on your finances if you’re not careful. Besides a late fee, some credit cards charge annual fees, cash advance fees, and more. You’ll want to make sure you’re aware of potential hidden fees so that you can avoid them. These are a few common ones.

Annual Fee

Believe it or not, some credit cards charge users an annual fee just for having the card. These fees can cost as much as $500. The good news is, if you have a good credit score, some don’t require you to pay annual fees.

Foreign Transaction Fee

Do you travel for work? If so, you probably don’t want to be charged a fee when you make purchases outside the United States. However, that’s what happens with foreign transaction fees. These fees can cost you as much as 3% for every transaction.

Balance Transfer Fee

If you transfer your balance to another card, you’ll have to pay between 3% to 5% of the balance. You’ll pay a fee each time you make one of those transfers.

Over-Limit Fee

If you accidentally spend over your credit limit, you can pay a fee to ensure those transactions are approved. If you don’t opt for this feature, your card will just be declined. You might think this sounds like a great card option, but spending over your card limit won’t benefit your finances.

4. A Small Credit Limit

It’s likely that you’re hoping to build credit with this card. Meaning you don’t need a high credit limit. In fact, you should probably opt for a credit card with a small credit limit. This works out well because it’s often harder to qualify for a higher limit.

A lower limit is also safer for you as a card user. It will reduce your likelihood of acquiring a lot of debt because you’ll have a smaller balance. Hopefully a smaller balance will also make it easier for you to make your payments ontime.

5. A Low APR

APR means annual percentage rate. It’s the amount of interest on your purchases that you pay each year to borrow money. Most credit cards have APRs, but some don’t charge you that interest if you pay the balance in full monthly. In other words, pay the full balance monthly so that your purchases don’t end up costing you more.

With that said, sometimes expenses come up, and you might end up carrying a balance to the next month. If this happens, you’ll want a low annual percentage rate. So compare cards to make sure you’re picking the one with the lowest APR.

6. Attractive Rewards

Most credit cards offer rewards as incentives for you to use credit, instead of cash or debit. The more you use your credit card, the more rewards you’ll earn. The most common types of rewards are cashback, miles, and points.

Cashback credit cards let you earn cash for the purchases you make with your credit card. With these cards, you’re able to redeem your rewards for money. Other cards offer miles, which users can use to book a flight. Points work in a similar way and can go towards gift cards, hotel stays, and other items.

While most credit cards offer rewards, not all are the same. Make sure you look for a credit card with rewards that complement your lifestyle.

7. Enhanced Security

When it comes to keeping your finances secure, you need to partner with the right financial institution. These days, most banks offer some sort of security. Some banks have two-factor authentication. Others have real-time alerts to let you know if there’s suspicious activity on your card. Better ones have both and more.

Not all banks have the same level of security. With your financial future at stake, you want to make sure your money’s safe. Before choosing your first credit card, research the measures the bank takes to keep you safe from fraud and theft.

Regardless of your age, choosing your first credit card can be a difficult decision. Why? Because there are so many options. While it might seem like all credit cards are quite similar, they differ in so many ways.

From fees to rewards, there are a number of features to consider. That’s why it’s so important to explore all your options to find the best card for your financial goals. With the tips above, you’ll be able to find a card that fits your lifestyle.

Leah Leonard

Coffee expert. Troublemaker. Typical music guru. Friendly beer fanatic. Introvert. Web specialist. Uniquely-equipped for implementing bullwhips in Ocean City, NJ. Spent a year importing licorice in Hanford, CA. Have some experience licensing cigarettes for the government. Once had a dream of selling toy monkeys in Las Vegas, NV. Spent the 80's working on hula hoops in Minneapolis, MN. What gets me going now is working with action figures in the government sector.

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