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When to Get a Credit Card

There is an old saying that the best time to apply for credit is when you don’t need it. In other words, you are more likely to qualify for the best credit cards when you have a good job, savings in the bank, a stable housing arrangement, and no significant debt.

Credit Cards You Need

A few select credit cards should get you through most emergencies. Your lifestyle or type of employ-ment might require more than two or three cards. For example, if you are expected to pay for travel arrangements upfront and then request reimbursement, you would probably find it easier to have one card exclusively for work expenses.

Gas Cards

If you own a vehicle, start with a gas credit card for the shop where you get your car repaired. If you work quite a distance from home, then apply for a gas card at a station near your place of employ-ment. Gas companies generally have easier qualifications for people applying for their first credit card.

Department Store Cards

Department stores like Target or Walmart sell virtually everything under the sun. If you should have an unexpected bill to pay, you could still buy groceries or diapers with a store credit card. They are eas-ier to get if you already have an established credit history, so apply after you obtain a gas card.

Major Credit Cards

Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover Card are among the more popular major credit cards. They are a good emergency resource when you are traveling since they are accepted by thousands of vendors. Some shops limit which cards they will accept, so it is best to have two major credit cards.

Rewards Programs

Nearly all credit cards offer some type of rewards program. Some programs award points toward trav-el or purchase from a catalog. Cash back programs credit your account with a percentage of your yearly purchases. Department stores offer preview days and an extra discount on merchandise purchases.

Timing Your Credit Card Applications

After working at your job for one year, apply for a gas card. If you do not drive, as is common in large cities, start with a department store card. Make at least 6 on-time payments before applying for an-other credit card. Six on-time payments will raise your credit score and make it more likely to qualify for a major credit card.