Despite the misconception by many that having a credit card is cool or easy, owning a credit card is a very huge responsibility to bear. It is quite common place to see a news story on TV about (often young) people who went ahead and got themselves into a mountain of debt, mainly because they did not understand the dynamics of getting and maintaining a credit card.
It is important to remember that your credit history will come back and haunt you years after you mess up on your first credit card, so tread carefully. Although knowing whether or not you should get your first credit card is an important question, it is more essential to figure out when exactly you should get it.
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One of the several factors used to determine your credit score is how long you have had a credit history. Therefore when all other things considered remain constant, two people applying for credit with one having a longer credit history than the other, the credit score of the former will be higher than the latter.
How you operate and maintain your credit card account – whether well or poorly – finds its way into your credit report. As stated earlier, the longer you own and maintain a credit card, the better your credit score will be. Prudent card usage often results in a positive impact on your report. Your goal should be to use your cards as sensibly as possible and for the longest duration in order to gain and improve upon your credit score.
The age with which a person can legally acquire a credit card is 18 years, which is the age that one can lawfully enter into a binding agreement. There are special cases where people below the minimum age limit are allowed to own a credit card. However, a co-signer of legal age is required to make this possible. It is advisable to try and get a credit card as soon as you reach the minimum age limit in order to benefit from the maximum length of credit history allowable by law.
In order for you to benefit from a longer credit history, you need to build credit history as soon as you can. So, it would be important to get your credit card as soon as your age allows you to. The sooner a person gets his first credit card, the sooner his credit history can be started, making it easier to acquire loans at a lower interest rate.
Caution needs to be taken with a first credit card as it can be especially damaging to your credit score if misused in any way, especially if it is the only card you own at the time. Thus, despite attaining the necessary age for acquiring a credit card, only those who believe they are responsible enough should go ahead and get one.
When co-signing for your child, remember to get the card in their name, in order to ensure that whatever history it will accumulate will be in your child’s name, and not yours. Otherwise, getting a card in your name and including the child as a co-signor will be counter-productive, as the card issued will be based upon and have impact on your history, not the child’s.
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Having said all of that, the actual decision of when to get your first credit card comes down to you and your assessment of your unique situation. By considering all of the pointers I mentioned above, I am sure you will be able to know when exactly you should apply for your first credit card.