Jun 16, 2013

Developing Good Credit

I always thought of credit cards as something that I didn't want. Credit card means debt, right? Why would I want debt?

Why would I want to spend money that I didn't have?

But that's not what credit cards are, necessarily, if you use them properly. Even if you can do just fine with cash and your debit card, there's good reason to seriously consider applying for a credit card.

If you never get a credit card, then suddenly need credit for some reason, you won't have a credit history to help you get the credit that you need! Therefore the smartest thing to do is to get credit before you actually need it.

But there are so many cards out there! How on earth do you choose?

Do you pick the prettiest card? The card that keeps sending you application solicitations in the mail? The card that your bank offers you? The one your parents have? The one your finger is pointing at after spinning around three times? The first card you see?

I suppose you could go with any of those options. In the end, you'll still be accumulating credit and it's still going to be better (as long as you always pay off your account punctually and don't end up paying hefty interest) than if you sat on your laurels and played around with your old-fashioned paper money.

Though it's tempting to choose the card that seems to reallllllly want you to apply, just like it was tempting to attend that University of Margaritas that you'd never heard of but kept sending you letters back in your senior year of high school, that's not going to always be the best option for you.

The attention may be flattering, but step back and look at the reality of what they're offering you.

Maybe there's a huge yearly fee, or an indecent APR. Maybe there are no benefits that you earn from spending, or benefits that aren't actually very useful.

Here are a few cards that offer some reward options that might be attractive to many of you (they're appealing to me).

Target Red Card

You save 5% on-the-spot on every Target purchase and you get free shipping on everything you buy at Target.com. If you're an avid Target shopper, or you find that you've been buying groceries, clothes, toiletries, accessories, and just about everything else at Target lately, that can really add up.

Another big plus for this card is that you get 30 extra days for returns, which is great for indecisive shoppers, and you can join the Take Charge of Education program and they'll donate a little money to your public school of choice every time you make a purchase.

Disney Rewards Visa Card (Chase)

This one is great for anyone who's obsessed with Disney (like me)! You can earn Disney gift cards, points to redeem for vacations at Disney World and Disney Land (theme park tickets, flights, Disney resorts, restaurants, etc.), and you can chose from a variety of pretty Disney motifs to grace your card.

If the last reason is the only reason you want the card, you should probably consider getting a different card. But if the rewards are good for you, too, then the pretty card designs are just a nice plus!

Airline Cards

Everyone has a different preferred airline, so I'm not going to actually highlight any specific program in this post. Instead, I encourage you to check out the rewards card your airline of choice offers. 

A lot of them will let you earn miles (and even get big bonuses when you first get the card), get free checked bags, and get priority boarding or sometimes even free upgrades!

Extra legroom? For free? Yes, please!

Whatever your lifestyle and shopping habits, there's probably a card out there for you. And whatever card you choose, it gives you the opportunity to start building credit. 

Now look at you! You're on your way to becoming a financially responsible, independent adult! And you're getting rewards for it, too!

That warrants a happy dance.


That's pretty much my happy dance. Grandma in the middle is getting pretty jiggy with it, but I'm a fan of granny on the left (reader's left) with the arms-in-the-air beaconing-a-flight-to-land dance.

That's a golden go-to move if I've ever seen one.

Do you have a credit card?

If so, what made you decide to get a credit card?

What's your biggest personal finance concern at the moment?


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