Want to Get Your First Credit Card? Here Are 3 Ways to Make Sure You're Approved

by Lyle Daly | July 12, 2019

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Getting a credit card is an important step in every young adult's life. When used correctly, it teaches you how to borrow money responsibly and pay back what you borrow, and it can also help you grow your credit score.

The challenging part is getting approved for a card in the first place. You may have a thin credit file or no credit history at all, which will make credit card companies wary about taking a chance on you.

You're not out of options, though. There are ways for anyone to get that first credit card, no matter their financial situation.

1. Ask someone you know to cosign your credit card application

Perhaps the best way to get your first credit card is to have a cosigner when you apply. Your cosigner can be anyone who has good credit, but most people ask a parent or another family member.

When you apply with a cosigner, the credit card company will use that person's financial information, including their income and credit history, to decide whether to approve the application. This can give you a much better chance of approval, and it means that you can get any credit card that your cosigner would qualify for.

Although there's no downside to this option for you, it is a risk for your cosigner. If you use your credit card in a way that is bad for your credit, it will also hurt your cosigner's credit score. And your cosigner would be just as liable as you for any unpaid credit card balances.

In a nutshell, your cosigner is taking a big chance on you, so don't make them regret it.

2. Pay a deposit to get a secured credit card

Don't have someone to cosign for you? While you may have trouble qualifying for most credit cards on your own, you can very likely qualify for a secured credit card.

Secured credit cards require cardholders to pay a security deposit upfront, just like a deposit you'd pay before moving into a new apartment. In many cases, this security deposit will be equal to your initial credit limit. The deposit is the credit card company's insurance that if you default, they won't lose money.

The great thing about these cards is that they're available for almost anyone. Some of the best secured cards even include the option to "graduate" to an unsecured version of the card, which basically means that the card issuer refunds your deposit if you make enough on-time payments and prove that you're a responsible cardholder.

3. If you're attending college, check out student credit cards

Students have an excellent option that other first-time credit card applicants don't have in the form of student credit cards. Since these are credit cards intended for college students, card issuers are typically open to applicants who don't have credit histories.

You will need at least some income to qualify on your own, but part-time income can suffice. These cards do tend to have lower credit limits than other cards.

Student credit cards often include access to resources providing education about finances and credit. They may earn rewards on your spending, and among the student cards that do, some even include rewards bonuses if you get good grades.

How to choose the method that's right for you

You now have three ways you can apply for your first credit card with a high chance of approval. But which one should you choose? It's actually a very simple decision.

If you can find a cosigner with good credit, then you should apply with them. You'll have far more card options this way, including many of the most popular credit cards.

Students who don't have a cosigner should look for student credit cards. Not only are these cards geared for students, but you won't need to pay a deposit, either.

If you don't have a cosigner and you're not in school, then a secured credit card is the way to go. It will cost you some money upfront, but that's well worth it to build your credit, and you can get that deposit back later anyway.

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