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 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:

Do...

  • 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.

Don't...

  • 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 editorial content on this site is not provided by the bank or issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the bank or issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank or issuer. Credit Karma may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. It is this compensation that enables Credit Karma to provide its members with services like free access to your credit scores and free monitoring of credit and financial accounts at no charge.

 

Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.

All Comments

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Top Contributor
27 Contributions
429 People Helped

Helpful to 223 out of 230 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....

Reply by
sund0wn

5 Contributions
193 People Helped
Helpful to 120 out of 124 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.

3 Contributions
208 People Helped

Helpful to 201 out of 213 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!

Reply by
sund0wn

5 Contributions
193 People Helped
Helpful to 37 out of 40 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
93 People Helped

Helpful to 93 out of 100 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

1 Contribution
48 People Helped

Helpful to 48 out of 49 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.

1 Contribution
62 People Helped

Helpful to 62 out of 65 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!! 

1 Contribution
72 People Helped

Helpful to 72 out of 76 people

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

Reply by
MzJan

3 Contributions
60 People Helped
Helpful to 53 out of 54 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!

6 Contributions
46 People Helped

Helpful to 35 out of 37 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!

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