Your First Credit Card

Kathleen Kelley
3 min readDec 11, 2020


Your first credit card can be exciting and for some, scary. People who have seen their family overspend and the negative consequences may feel apprehensive about getting a credit card, and if they do, they may not want to use it.

These fears however, should not become a barrier toward you getting a credit card and learning to be responsible with it, instead of using it to spend a ton every month when you’re 30 and becoming irresponsible with it.

I would suggest getting your first credit card when you’re 17 or 18-years-old. The reason is, you want to do it before you buy your first car or need to buy your first home and there is time between the time you turn 17 or 18 and the time you buy either one. If you are a minor you will need your parents to cosign the credit card since you are not yet an adult but as long as they are willing to do so you can easily get a credit card at the bank you have an account with. You could get your first card as young as 13 if, once again, your parents cosign however I wouldn’t recommend that because you’re really young and that is a lot of responsibility for the average 13-year-old.

A lot of adults in, 1 in 10 actually, are credit invisible, meaning they have no record of borrowing money and that makes them a high risk person to give a loan to as they don’t have a credit history someone can look into.

If you ever want to borrow money to buy a house, a car or open your first business having a credit history is very important.

I didn’t have to show any information to my bank when I got my first card, but I had been with them for all of my teenage years so they had a record of my money spending habits and I got my first basic credit card with them. I did eventually switch banks and you can read about why in this article:

I still have the credit card with them however and I keep it because even though I don’t get cashback I don’t have to worry about an exorbitant amount of fees.

The biggest piece of advice I ever heard was, don’t think of a credit card like you’re rolling in newfound money. Think of a credit card “as a second bank card. Make purchases on a credit card you would make in your average day to day life”. This has been my mantra and while I may underuse it some I have gotten a bit better. I now try to use it for monthly bill payments for school, such as Adobe Creative Cloud, and at the start of school to pay for books, software and anything else I may need for school. Then when I need to pay my credit card off again the next month I pay it all down.

Some people say pay the minimum off and to carry credit over every month. That is not something that helps your credit score. It doesn’t hurt it as long as you pay off the minimum every month, but it isn’t something that helps your credit.

Also, make sure to actually use the card. There is no point in having the card if you don’t use it.

If you know you would never get a pair of hundred dollar sneakers without a credit card, don’t get them just because you have a credit card. Use it to buy groceries, pay a light bill, that sort of thing.



Kathleen Kelley

I am a college student who works at a grocery store. I am majoring in journalism. I write about personal finance, college and things I wish I knew in life.