No matter how old you are—or where you are in life—the day you get your first credit card is often when your credit history is born. And that first card can help you for the rest of your life when used responsibly. It can make buying more convenient and may even reward you with perks like travel miles. But the greatest value of your first credit card? How it can help you build strong credit for the future. Just keep these things in mind:
1. Play for keeps
It's true—a long credit history does help your credit score. In fact, as much as 15% of your score is based on the length of your credit history, so it's important to choose a first credit card that you'll use for the long run. You might not hold on to everything you buy with it, but you can see why it may be best to keep your first credit card forever.
2. Know what to expect
Applying for a first credit card means you might not have much in the way of credit history. So a bank is going to be careful about how much it lets you spend on the card, and how many perks you're offered. While you may not be able to get every feature you want on your very first credit card, you might still find cards with low or no annual fees. And after a short time of making on-time payments, you may have a better chance to get more credit or even lower your interest rate.
3. Shop smart
When you're comparing cards to decide which is right for your first credit card, think about which features matter the most to you. It could be flexibility in your payment options, the peace of mind that comes with fraud coverage, or the convenience of online and mobile access to your account.
4. Build credit from day one
A little planning can go a long way. Now that you know more about the key features to look for in credit cards for building credit, you can feel more confident choosing the right first credit card for you. But no matter which card you pick, remember how important it is to spend responsibly and pay your bill on time each month. Paying on time can influence as much as 35% of your credit score, so it's one of the best ways you can build your credit future.