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How to get your first credit card

How to go about getting your first credit card:

Credit cards come with a range of benefits you may not be aware of. They can help you manage debt and build your credit score, access credit that functions as a short-term interest free loan, get rewards for spending, or give you a handy extra source of funds that comes with payment protection.

You should take a look at our guide to applying for credit cards, but if its your first card it might be worth getting up to speed on some of the basics as well. So here we’ll outline some considerations for those beginning with credit cards.

If you have a specific purpose in mind for you card, such as making a big expenditure or accessing another source of funds while abroad, then its good to have a look at the different kinds of cards available. There is a lot of choice, but this is good since they can be tailored to your needs precisely. You should check your credit score with a credit agency and be aware of the requirements for different cards. It might be hard to get approved if you don’t have much credit history – in this case it might be a good idea to go for a credit builder card or maybe look to the bank where you have your current account as they will have a better overview of you financial history.

You should also know that if you don’t have the credit score for the card of your choice, there are several ways to build your credit score easily. In fact, for your first card you could choose for a credit builder card, which may not have the best deals but is easier to get and can improve your credit score. These cards can open up the possibility of successful applications for other cards in future.

With this in mind, here is a list of types of cards you might want to apply for based on your priorities:

Type of card Worth considering if
0% Purchase card You have a big expenditure coming up
Overseas spending card You travel a lot
Balance transfer card You want to bring another credit card debt under control
Credit builder card You’re looking to increase your credit score
Reward card You spend a lot and can clear the balance monthly
Low rate card You want a hassle-free low lifetime rate
Money transfer card You’re looking for a cash injection


It’s also a god idea to check with some of the online availability checkers since these can allow you to get an idea of your chances when applying for a card without leaving a mark on your credit score.

As a summary, here is a checklist of things to keep in mind when applying for your first card:

  • What is your credit score?
  • What do you need the card for?
  • Have you decided on a specific type of card?
  • Have you checked your eligibility for the card with one of the online tools?
  • If you don’t think you’ll be approved for the card of your choice, have you considered ways to increase your credit score or maybe talking to the bank with whom you have your current account?