Beginners Guide to Credit Cards

If you’re reading this and you’re on your way to college, then you’ve most likely thought about starting your credit journey and getting a credit card. Not too long ago, I was in that same position and I want to help you now so that you don’t make the same mistakes I did. I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty details of credit, but it is important to know the basics. There are things you should look for when deciding which card to get and it’s always necessary to know how credit will affect you and your future.

Before getting a credit card, it’s so important to educate yourself on what credit is and what it means in regards to your life. Your credit score can determine so many life decisions like buying a car or leasing an apartment. While I don’t consider myself to be in bad shape, I wish I had known more so that I had done things differently. I saw my credit card as free money and didn’t think about the repercussions of being in debt, but now that I’ve experienced that, I have a better understanding of what not to do.

You’ll want to ask yourself the most important questions: What is the interest rate? Can you do balance transfers? Can you get cash back? What is the annual fee?

You’ll want to take several things into account when looking for the most suitable credit card. What are you actually getting the card for? You want to ask yourself this question because there are certain cards that are geared toward specific things. For instance, if you shop at Nordstrom frequently, then it would probably make sense to get a Nordstrom credit card. If you travel a lot, then you’ll probably want to look into a card that will give you travel rewards. Some cards are good for gas or groceries and others are good for retail and travel. It’s all about what’s best for your lifestyle.

You’ll then want to ask yourself the most important questions: What is the interest rate? Can you do balance transfers? Can you get cash back? What is the annual fee? It’s vital to do your research on these questions, especially if you are young and working part-time. You don’t want to be a freshman in college paying a credit card and also having to pay outrageous interest fees. Look into credit cards that have benefits for college students. I recommend Discover, but there are plenty others out there.

Beyond the technical considerations of getting a credit card, you’ll also want to consider your lifestyle. Do you like to travel or eat out? Do you and your friends frequently go out to places that require you to spend money? All of this is important to consider because eventually, every month you’ll have to pay off the credit card, and you don’t want those payments to interfere with the money you use for leisure. You’ll end up in a repetitive cycle of using the card only to have to pay it off and unless you start paying more than the minimum payment due, it will take forever to get out of debt. Take it from someone who knows.


By Kayla Crittle, University of Kentucky Alumni

Instagram / Twitter: kaylamarieily

Written by Kayla Crittle

Hey! My name is Kayla and I am True Star's Twentysomething. Anything you need to know about college and life after college—I got you.

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