What to know before getting your first credit card

by | Aug 1, 2023 | Finance and Business

Are you starting post-secondary school and considering getting your first credit card? It can be exciting to get a credit card for the first time. It provides the opportunity to build credit – something that most adults need. But it’s important for new credit card holders to know what they’re getting into and how to use their card wisely. Here are some things to remember:

Understand interest
If you can’t pay the full amount, it’s a warning sign that you may be spending more than you can afford. Avoid paying interest by paying off the entire balance of a credit card every month. Interest charges can add up quickly, build up debt and hurt your credit score. Bad credit can follow you for years to come.

Designed to help new cardholders understand exactly how interest works, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has a credit card payment calculator that lets people see how long it would take to pay off a credit card if they don’t pay the full amount each month.

Build credit in a secure way
If you’re uncertain about getting a traditional credit card, consider starting with a secured credit card. To get one, you must provide your bank with a security deposit to cover the credit limit. If you don’t make your payments, the bank may use your deposit to pay the money you owe.

These types of cards can help you build a good credit history without the risk of defaulting.

Know your rights
Banks must follow certain rules about your credit card agreement. For example, they must clearly set out the key features of the credit card in an information box that appears on your monthly statement. This includes details such as the interest rates and other charges such as annual fees.

Your bank may make changes to the features or the terms and conditions of your credit card. If they do, they must provide you with the details in writing at least 30 days before the changes take effect.

Find more information on credit cards at canada.ca/money

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