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A credit card newbie looking for some help
Hello! I'm 22 years old, not currently a student (although I'd like to go back in the fall,) and a waitress. I don't really have anyone to discuss credit with... my dad has been plagued with debt and had troubles his whole life, and is against acquiring a credit card. However, I think I view them differently than most people and am prepared to handle the responsibility.
I am not interested in obtaining a credit card for any purpose besides improving my credit score and diversity. Since I am a waitress, I get cash every day, and can work more hours for more instant cash as I need it. I have no need to anticipate funds for my necessities, since I don't really get paychecks.
As I understand, it's optimal to utilize a certain percentage of your credit limit, and that's what I plan to do every month, and pay in full. I don't see it as "OMG FREE MONEY."
The only reason I'm suddenly interested in credit is because the inevitability of my 6-year-old hand me down vehicle (250,000 mi) dying is beginning to show. Debt is not something that interests me, but I don't have enough money saved up to buy a used vehicle. I plan to finance a sub-$10k used car, and want to get a non-nightmarish rate.
According to Credit Karma, my score is 692, which is fair. However, I have some concerns about the validity of this number.
Firstly, my credit history is pretty close to nothing. I only have ~$2000 of "debts," which is comprised of just two student loan accounts. I have made 72 payments in full and on time. That's all, no inquiries beyond promotional ones (which went in the trash.)
I attempted to obtain a FICO score, but it just flat out said that I don't have one and that I don't have any credit history, contrary to what Credit Karma reports. I have also obtained a credit report from Equifax, which mirrors Credit Karma's history.
I am also a 90-day fraud alert with the credit bureaus, since I recently fell victim to tax refund fraud. Nothing suspicious is on my report, though.
So onto my questions:
Must I wait until the fraud alert has expired before I apply for a credit card?
I'm not sure whether it's best to apply for a secured card, or an unsecured card recommended for someone with "fair" credit. I would prefer to open a line with no annual fees and that I can keep open for a long time. I'm not concerned about APR, since I intend to pay in full, and the "rewards" business does not matter to me. I feel wary about secured cards, since I must make an upfront investment (I don't like spending money, and my credit card would be used for normal purchases.)
I am also concerned about income reporting, if it's part of the application process (which I assume it is.) As a waitress, my reported income doesn't reflect my actual income (cash tips are calculated as a percentage of sales, which isn't always accurate... let's not discuss this at length.) Can I be rejected for low income? Or willl it just affect my credit limit?
I don't want to make the wrong decision and apply for the wrong card, and mess up my credit that way. But I also don't want to sell myself short, and miss a good value that I deserve.

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6 Contributions
26 People Helped


Can't seem to find an edit button, so some extra info... 

About my income, my reported income is about 1000-1800 a month (it varies due to the nature of the work.)

Additionally, I was unemployed from June-November 2014, worked a seasonal job, and just started a new serving job last month. Would this also make me look "bad" on an application? I've only had 3 jobs in my life, and stayed at my first for three years.

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