The do's and don'ts of getting a new credit card

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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 typically smart moves for good credit health. The following are some considerations to keep in mind when it comes time to choose a new credit card:


  • Research cards based on your credit score. Your approval odds provide an estimated likelihood that you'll be approved for a credit card, based on your credit profile and data about Credit Karma members who have been approved in the past. Better approval odds don't guarantee that you'll successfully get a card, but they can help you focus your search on cards you're more likely to get.
  • Consider choosing a secured credit card to start. If your credit history is short, or if you're rebuilding your credit after damaging events like 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 from our members. Find out which cards make customers happy, and which you may want to avoid.
  • Compare credit card statistics. On a card's review page, you can see overall information about Credit Karma members who have the card like average credit limit rewarded, average household income, average cardholder age and more.
  • Consider 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. It's generally recommended to keep your overall credit card balances under 30 percent of your available credit limits if possible. Lower credit utilization rates suggest to creditors that you can use credit responsibly without relying too heavily on it.


  • Automatically apply for the first credit card offer you see. Just because a card advertises a low interest rate or a great rewards package, it doesn't necessarily mean that you'll qualify for the card or that its other terms will meet your needs. You may want to research other cards before making a decision.
  • 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 cam remain on your credit report for seven years and could severely damage your credit score. Consider setting up automatic payments or email alerts to remind you when it's time to pay your credit card bill.
  • Carry over a balance to build credit. It's not necessary to carry over a balance from month to month to build your credit health. If you can, pay off all of your credit card balance in full every month to avoid interest payments. If the bill is too large, paying more than your minimum payment can still reduce your accrued interest.
  • Pay interest on a store card if you can avoid it. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, try to 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, potentially lowering your credit score and making it more difficult to pay off your balances.

If you have any more questions, head over to our credit advice forums, where you can ask other Credit Karma members about credit cards, as well as other financial topics. When you're ready to apply, find the best credit card for you.

Editorial Note: The opinions you read here come from our editorial team. While compensation may affect which companies we write about and products we review, our marketing partners don't review, approve or endorse our editorial content. Our content is accurate (to the best of our knowledge) when we initially post it, but we don't guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. You can visit the company's website to get complete details about a product. See an error in an article? Use this form to report it to our editorial team. For questions about your Credit Karma account, please submit a help request to our support team.

Advertiser Disclosure: We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.

Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.

Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.

All Comments

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Top Contributor
32 Contributions
563 People Helped

Helpful to 306 out of 316 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....

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1 Contribution
64 People Helped
Helpful to 64 out of 73 people

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

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5 Contributions
342 People Helped
Helpful to 230 out of 237 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.

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1 Contribution
28 People Helped
Helpful to 28 out of 33 people

How did you get it in the 700s?

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1 Contribution
0 People Helped
Helpful to 0 out of 1 people

Some what

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2 Contributions
0 People Helped

Hey 9CLINE. . . You just inspired me. I have been putting this off for about two years now due to my 16 medical conditions and not being able to find employment, well at least let me have "part-time" Geeze!  It's truly hard for people with disabilities to find jobs. But I thank GOD ALMIGHTY for my benefits! My score right now is 567-568 with no bankrupty tho. I was looking earlier tonight at the things that knocked my credit down from 643!!! I was perplexed at first, then I got MAD! (A good mad.). Now with this GREAT TOOL like you said, I saw some things that really took me by surprise! But I know what to do now!!! CREDIT KARMA GOT MY BACK and I'm ready to ATTACK! (As in getting back on top of things.).

Now, I am seriously going to start making some letters and getting some things off my credit score and make sure I come back each week checking things out.

And for the rest of you.... let's get the party started!

Thank you CREDIT KARMA!!! For actually caring about people who were once lost, confused, perplexed, baffled and more.


6 Contributions
205 People Helped

Helpful to 127 out of 130 people

I am so thankful for CK. I joined the site in April 2014 out of desperation. I was going out of town on business and needed a credit card.
It's been a year sense my Bankruptcy discharge so I felt I could get a credit card. Joined CK with a 605 score. They recommended a secured

card with cap1. This wasn't going to help me with my trip but I figured I would get it to start building my credit. You see I didn't know that

not having any credit cards was hurting me so bad! So I applied and was approved for a secured card with a 200 dollar deposit. Hardly felt like

a victory but I knew I needed it. After reading how to manage my credit utilization I decided to deposit 500 dollars. CK also help me to realize

that my mortgage company was not reporting our payment status. Called BOA and they could not tell me why they weren't reporting monthly updates.

After one month this is what happened...

1. BOA all of sudden reported an good standing update to our credit.

2. Credit card utilization score now an A

3. CK Score increased to 677

4. apply for unsecured cap1 card and was approved for cl $3000

5. Refinanced car loan from 14.4% apr to 2.99

All within one month. Thanks CK for all of your help and recommendations!

6 Contributions
205 People Helped
Helpful to 68 out of 71 people

One year update...

Credit card utilization score still an A

1. CK Score increased to CK 709TU and 720Eq

2. apply for unsecured cap1 card and was approved for cl $3000 now $5000

3. Barclay card $2600

4. Chase card $3000

5. Discover card $12000

6.Quick Silver $10000

It seems surreal. Last year in March of 2014 I had no credit line and now over $30k. I am so grateful for what I have learned over the past year here with CK. Stick with it and help all that you can. 

3 Contributions
275 People Helped

Helpful to 268 out of 282 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!

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5 Contributions
342 People Helped
Helpful to 65 out of 73 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.

1 Contribution
92 People Helped

Helpful to 92 out of 96 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.

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1 Contribution
20 People Helped
Helpful to 20 out of 24 people

Which card did you get? I just paid off all of my cards that were in collections and looking for a card to rebuild. But I'm nervous to apply and get an inquiry if I don't even get approved my score shows 548.

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

Jaydee3 I applied for the QS1 card from Cap 1 with a CK TU score of 646 EQ of 596 and was approved for $300 plus I get 1.5% rewards on purchases. 

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1 Contribution
30 People Helped
Helpful to 30 out of 34 people

Just a Idea, a few years ago, I did apply for a Discover Card. I was denied .I got a secured credit limit from my bank, and kept it current, for the time alloted. and recieved my deposit back. But during the time I was building my credit, I then began recieving junk mail stating that I had been approved for A Discover Card. I started shredding this after, 3-4 weeks after, I started getting these. I now own a NEW car, and have several Credit Cards, which I pay monthly, usually in full, or close to it.  Never pay the minimum, always try to pay half or better!!!  Also try to stay with your Primary Banking institution. I am now trying to refinace my new car thru my own banking facility, at a lower interest rate. Hope this helps & please avoid Discover.

1 Contribution
112 People Helped

Helpful to 112 out of 121 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

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1 Contribution
28 People Helped
Helpful to 28 out of 29 people

A key is with ck is to only risk applying for a card I it says you have a VERY GOOD chance of approval
not good. Those you will get. Hope this helps.

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3 Contributions
21 People Helped
Helpful to 15 out of 17 people

The credit card offers here are pretty hit and miss. I applied for a Discover that said I had a very good chance of getting, denied. Then I applied for a card it said I had a fair chance of getting, approved. Sometimes you just have to take a chance.

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

I love CK, however in a suggestion to the developers... when I click on the "MY RECOMMENDATIONS" tab, 3 cards appear, and they have not changed (barely) in over 50pts of positive growth in both of my accounts. It would be nice if we could discard that or other cards, perhaps ones we might not wish to use after reading reviews and doing our homework.

Lastly CK has helped me increase my scores 196+ points!

I was able to make good on tiny small debts which were bogging me down, and now I have 1 point shy of 720, and my 2nd unsecured C/C by my bank*, this one with points (hooray) with now a lot lot of borrowable 'credit' available. I typically run less then 3% (depending when the CK snap-shot goes from my accounts) and I never allow my card to go to statement.

1 Contribution
88 People Helped

Helpful to 88 out of 91 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!! 

Reply by

5 Contributions
342 People Helped
Helpful to 42 out of 52 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. 

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3 Contributions
23 People Helped
Helpful to 15 out of 16 people

Under Federal law (Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Regulation V), creditors are required to disclose the credit score they relied on in making a credit decision if your credit application is denied (FCRA adverse action notice) or if you're approved but don't receive the best terms and conditions offered to others (risk based pricing notice). Mortgages are a special category, in which creditors must always share the credit score(s) they pulled in reviewing your residential mortgage application (FCRA 609(g)).

1 Contribution
93 People Helped

Helpful to 93 out of 97 people

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

Reply by

3 Contributions
73 People Helped
Helpful to 66 out of 72 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!

Top Contributor

Reply by

11 Contributions
68 People Helped
Helpful to 4 out of 4 people

Enter Your Reply  thats to funny mine is not the same credit co but 2 different scores i got my credit report from all 3 experian was 650 equifax was 652 & transunion was 664 on ck equifax is 722 & transunion is 728 same co but no match don't understand this

1 Contribution
66 People Helped

Helpful to 66 out of 75 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. 

3 Contributions
24 People Helped
Helpful to 23 out of 36 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 on youtube just keep an open mind . it got me thinking ????

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

i didn't know credit unions had credit cards just thought they done loans and banking fackle sticks man, I do my banking with a credit union but i applied for a capitol one secured card about a day or so ago... wish i had read about ths stuff a little more maybe it wont be super hard to close the secured card an get an aod credit card, here's hoping :D i'd rather have credit from them anyway. nice an convienent to be able to do everything in one place, I cosigned with my dad on a car loan of 8 grand about 4 mnths ago but it's through his union so i doubt they'd beat 5.5% interest, or that they'd get me as primary considering my limited credit history, but maybe they'd at least be able to get me aprroved for a card

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1 Contribution
12 People Helped
Helpful to 12 out of 15 people

whats wrong ith capitol one credit cards

2 Contributions
34 People Helped

Helpful to 33 out of 36 people


1 Contribution
33 People Helped

Helpful to 33 out of 34 people

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

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