Credit Authority Staff

In the wide world of credit cards, it can be difficult to understand all of the different parts of getting approved for one of these very useful tools.  Credit score, credit application, bad credit, good credit, what do all of these terms mean?  Here at we've done everything we can to make this process as easy as possible - a step by step guide letting you know how to get a new credit card.

Step 1 - Learn your Credit Score

One of the most important things to know as a credit card owner is your credit score.  It will determine a large number of things, not just the interest rates and the credit limit you have on your credit card, but also your eligibility for everything from mortgages to leasing apartments.  Not to mention when applying for a number of specialty credit cards, like department store credit cards or airline credit cards, they'll be looking closely at your credit score in order to assess your worthiness.

The first step in learning your credit score is to consult a credit bureau credit provider, like who will let you know your free credit score.  This will let you know when you're applying for a credit card exactly what type of credit cards you should be applying for.

Step 2 - Understand your finances

When applying for credit cards, it's incredibly important to understand exactly what you'll be using the credit card for and how much money you'll be spending on it.  This is especially important if you've had debt problems in the past - as a very significant portion of Americans have debt problems because of their credit cards, and the goal is not to cause more problems!

One of our favorite sites to this end is  Mint provides a fantastic service in that they will track their users' spending habits, categorize their purchases, and directly assist them in constructing a budget.  It's also incredibly useful because it helps you understand what type of purchases comprise the majority of your spending - a key part of Step 3.

Step 3 - Find the best credit card category for you

After you've obtained your credit score and analyzed your spending habits, it's time to find the type of card that will suit you the best.  We'd recommend visiting our Credit Card Categories page to get the best idea, however, we're going to outline a few basic different card types below as well :

    • Travel Credit Cards - these credit cards provide rewards specifically targeted towards earning travel benefits, like free flights or hotels.  They'll also have other concierge type amenities.
    • Rewards Credit Cards - these credit cards provide incentives in the form of cash back or other items for using the credit card
    • Low APR Credit Cards - these credit cards are specifically devoted to helping alleviate debt problems, or to finance a large purchase

There are a number of other credit card types out there, including those for students and specialty cards, like department store credit cards, but we think these are the three major categories a first time credit card holder should be purchasing.

Step 4 - Find the best credit card for you

After you understand your credit score, your spending habits, and the different types of cards available, we'd recommend using a tool like our Credit Card Comparison Tool to enter the qualities that describe you best.  This tool will sort through all of the different credit cards available on the market and allow you to weigh your options side by side.  There are a few key attributes to keep in mind when looking at all of the credit cards, but ultimately, you're going to want a card that :

    • Provides maximum Rewards
    • Provides the lowest interest rate
    • Provides the best extended zero APR period or Balance Transfer period (if applicable)

Card searches should weigh all of these attributes against :

    • Annual Fees
    • Late Fees
    • Balance Transfer Fees

We hope this was helpful!  Best of luck finding your first credit card. team
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