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Applying for Your First Credit Card: What You Need to Know

Getting your first credit card is an exciting financial step. It also comes with a lot of responsibility. That's why it's so essential to practice good credit habits as soon as you get your card.

Here are some tips to help you borrow smarter with your first credit card:

Choose the right card

If you're a student or a first-time borrower, look for a low-rate card with no annual fees, like Wright-Patt Credit Union's (WPCU) First Time User Low Rate credit card. Avoid signing up for retail cards offered to you at checkout. While these cards might offer special store discounts, they typically come with much higher interest rates.

Use your card to build credit

Your credit card can be a valuable tool to help you establish and maintain good credit. But if you're not careful, it can have the opposite effect. To maximize the credit-building benefits of your card, follow these tips:

  • Only use your credit card for purchases you know you can afford
  • Each month, pay your balance on time and in full
  • Stay well below your credit limit 

Your credit card may give you free access to your credit score or include it on your monthly statement. A good credit score can help you qualify for lower rates on future loans like car loans and mortgages, so keep an eye on this important number.

Avoid overspending

One of the risks of credit cards is that it's easy to spend more than you would with cash or your debit card. To avoid spending more than you can afford to repay, set a personal limit for yourself. Treat your credit card as if it were cash, reminding yourself that you have to repay whatever you buy. Another good idea is to sign up to receive email alerts or text messages from your credit card issuer anytime you make a purchase or whenever you reach a certain amount. 

Monitor your card activity

Using a credit card responsibly means regularly checking your transactions. Not only will this help you keep your spending in check, but it will also allow you to detect and stop fraud as soon as possible. If you notice any suspicious charges – even if it's just a few cents – notify your card issuer right away. 

When used wisely, a credit card can add convenience to your life and help you build the good credit history you need to achieve a brighter financial future. Learn more about WPCU's credit card options online or visit a Member Center.