The Do's and Don'ts of Getting a New Credit Card
The Do's and Don'ts of Getting a New Credit Card

A credit card is one of the best tools for building and repairing credit. Making on-time payments and maintaining a credit card utilization rate under 30 percent are smart moves for good credit health. When it comes time to choose a new credit card, keep in mind some of these do's and don'ts:

Do...

  • Choose a card based on your credit. Your Approval Odds will show you the likelihood that you'll be approved for a credit card, based on your credit score.
  • Consider a secured credit card to start. If your credit history is short, or if you're rebuilding your credit after a foreclosure or bankruptcy, a secured credit card is a great tool to have. It's backed by a security deposit you provide, which serves as a buffer against you defaulting on a payment.
  • Read reviews. Credit Karma has thousands of consumer credit card reviews. Find out which cards make customers happy, and which you should avoid.
  • Compare credit card statistics. Credit Karma has data on more than five million credit card accounts. You can compare the average credit limit rewarded, average household income, average cardholder age, and more.
  • Choose a card based on your spending personality. For instance, you might choose an airline credit card if you're a frequent traveler.
  • Read the fine print. Be sure to know what the terms and conditions are for the credit card you're interested in before you apply.
  • Watch your credit utilization rate. When you have your new card, keep your overall credit card balances under 30 percent of your available credit limits. This will show creditors that you can use credit responsibly without relying too heavily on it.

Don't...

  • Apply for the first credit card offer you get. Just because a card advertises a low interest rate or a great rewards package, it doesn't mean that you'll qualify for the card. Research other cards before making a decision about which card to apply for.
  • Miss a payment. Your credit score will only benefit from your new credit card if you maintain regular on-time payments. Just one missed payment will remain on your credit report for seven years and can severely damage your credit score. Set up automatic payments or email alerts to remind you when it's time to pay your credit card bill.
  • Carry over a balance. If you can, pay off all of your credit card in full every month, avoiding any interest payments. If the bill is too large, try paying more than your minimum payment to reduce your accrued interest payment.
  • Pay interest on a store card. While a store credit card can be a good tool in your personal finance arsenal, it's important to remember that store credit cards typically come with high interest rates. The Amazon.com Store Card has an average APR of 25.99%.
  • Close your other cards. Just because you qualified for a great cash back credit card, it's not necessarily best to close your other credit cards, particularly if you have a lengthy credit history. Consult this article with tips for closing old accounts.
  • Apply for multiple cards at once. Several hard inquiries over a short period of time can make you appear desperate for credit and lower your credit score. Instead, do the research beforehand and apply for just one card at a time.
  • Max out your credit cards. Your credit card utilization rate will skyrocket, lowering your credit score, and it will be more difficult to pay off your balances.

These are just a few of the do's and don'ts of getting a new credit card. If you have any more questions, head over to the Credit Advice Center, where you can ask and answer questions about credit cards as well as other financial topics. For lots of helpful information, browse through the credit cards section on the Credit Karma Blog. When you're ready to apply, find the best credit card for you.


All Comments
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Helpful to 105 out of 109 people

Thanks for the advice I have used this site since joining to help rebuild my credit. From what I have seen so far the reviews and advice given are great, I have used them to improve my score from 497 to 702 in about 3years time. Patience and learning how the credit game works has been key. I understand some have increased faster than I have,but coming from a Chpt.13 Bkrtcy to now I am all smiles. Keep up the good work,this is a great tool to improve and watch over what is going on. I knew from the start that it's not actual scores here,pretty much ball park for me,but it is better than nothing and esp. better than paying for a Fako score.. What more can I say? Thanks Credit Karma....

Top Contributor

Comment by
9CLINE

24 Contributions
195 People Helped
Helpful to 8 out of 8 people

Heggood, my advice is to find an inexpensive car, or car you can afford from a dealership that specializes in customers with less than perfect credit. MAKE SURE they report to credit bureaus. Make sure to make those payments on time EVERY MONTH. Also open a credit card. If you don't qualify for any of the cards intended for those with low credit, get a secured card. Charge 10-30% of your limit each month! and pay it all off. Any card you qualify for will have high interest rates. Paying them off will avoid your wasting money on interest. Finally, if you have outstanding collections, pay them off. I went from a 530 to a 720 in 2 years by being smart and following those rules. The first car I financed I paid 19.99%, and was able to trade it in after a year and finance a newer car at 7%. CK really helps with good advice and gives you the opportunity to keep an eye on your credit. You get 1 free report from each bureau each year, so pull all of them and make sure to satisfy any issues that are on any/all of them.

Reply by
sund0wn

5 Contributions
21 People Helped
Helpful to 3 out of 3 people

Any advice or tips on what you did to improve your score?

Reply by
heggood

1 Contribution
3 People Helped
Helpful to 126 out of 136 people

I deal primarily with my local Credit Union, both for loans (mortgage & auto paid off, home equity in process of paying off) and Visa Card.  I am happy that I have been able to pay off the balance every month.  The interest if I don't is 9.99%.  According to Credit Karma, my score is 760.  I am retired and living off Social Security and a small annual withdrawal from my annuity.  I worked really hard at paying things off prior to retirement and am grateful to the credit union for all their help in the past.  If you haven't explored using a local credit union, I highly recommend it!

Comment by
wilbur12345

3 Contributions
130 People Helped
Helpful to 4 out of 4 people

I couldn't agree more. And your money goes to a local business where the members reap the benefits of their revenue instead of these Goliath national chains who make billions and pray on decent, hard working Americans.

Reply by
sund0wn

5 Contributions
21 People Helped
Helpful to 57 out of 60 people

I really like Credit Karma. I check my credit often. I have built my credit score up. The only thing I don't like is when they say they have a card that your chances are good to get. I apply and get turned down every time. Don't understand....besides that I give it a 9

Comment by
laurenmich

1 Contribution
57 People Helped
Helpful to 27 out of 28 people

I like Credit Karma. It was ridiculous when mortgage companies used to say they couldn't tell us our credit score. Really? It was my score, but I couldn't use it? And to have to pay the credit unions to see my score? Wow. Thanks Credit Karma!! 

Comment by
mussled

1 Contribution
27 People Helped
Helpful to 4 out of 4 people

It's actually against the law for places like mortgage companies and car dealerships to share your credit report with you. They can tell you how you scored and things that contributed to their decision, but they cannot give you the report. CK is awesome, but each bureau is also obliged to give you a free copy once a year. 

Reply by
sund0wn

5 Contributions
21 People Helped
Helpful to 41 out of 44 people

I got my credit score from my credit reports and it is the same as credit karma!!!!!!!!!

Comment by
joelynn

1 Contribution
41 People Helped
Helpful to 26 out of 27 people

A friend of a friend in a business where she has access to credit scores looked mine up for me a few months ago.  According to the big 3, my average score is almost 100 points higher than CK is reflecting. But, with all the tools and assistance CK offers, it's most certainly worth it to be a member!

Reply by
MzJan

3 Contributions
29 People Helped
Helpful to 11 out of 11 people

im watching my score go up and down but im trying to do better i love credit karma

Comment by
sherriebrooks

1 Contribution
11 People Helped
Helpful to 47 out of 54 people

Thank you for those of you who have left comments, I learned to stay away from Capitol one credit card for sure, and others I am sure. I totally agree with the credit union suggestion. 

Comment by
IdahoGalinMt

1 Contribution
47 People Helped
Helpful to 14 out of 20 people

it don't work the same for us all but dam i just did Capital 1 a few minutes ago. But have you looked at One minute U.com on youtube just keep an open mind . it got me thinking ????

Reply by
undercover1credit

1 Contribution
14 People Helped
Helpful to 10 out of 11 people

SO FAR SO GOOD WITH. CAPITAL ONE.THEY ARE VERY HELPFUL AND SEEM TO BE AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT WHEN NECESSARY

Comment by
SKYANGL55

2 Contributions
10 People Helped
Helpful to 4 out of 4 people

My credit was in the crapper. But with a credit report helped me remember what past due bills I needed to pay. Unfortunately I did take the first card available, but to me it was worth it. Now while monitoring my credit score here I have come back with on time payments, now my credit score is high enough that I am eledgible for more, better cards.

Comment by
ramblingrob

2 Contributions
4 People Helped
Helpful to 2 out of 2 people

Capital One was the only credit card company I used during a time when I went from a 470 credit score to almost 700.  They were always professional and caring with me.  They have flooded with me with other offers for auto financing and different types of cards but I have not taken on any new credit from them.  They may not be the best for everyone but I have absolutely no problems with them. Their website is easy to use and I have recommended them to friends who are in challeging credit situations and at least two of them have done out of their way to tell me about their positive experience.

Comment by
Nina265

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2 People Helped
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