4 Things To Check When Choosing Your First Credit Card
A licensed financial advisor also shares the common reasons why credit card applications are rejected.
There is nothing that makes you feel more like an adult than paying your own bills and getting your own credit card. Yes, it may feel intimidating at first, but it is a huge milestone, and you should give yourself a pat on the back if you do manage to get one because it means you’re ready to take responsibility for your expenses, er, actions.
Before signing up, however, it is best to do your research about how credit cards work and the obligations that come with it to make your financial journey hassle-free!
OneLife.ph got the chance to chat with licensed financial advisor Jen Fajardo, CWP, CEPP, the woman behind The Wiser Millennials PH.
Credit card vs. Debit card
Some of us may be confused about the differences between a credit card and a debit card, but it is actually less complicated than we think.
According to Jen, “Debit cards are the most common way to save your money in a bank. Through debit cards, we’re able to easily access our funds and it’s a convenient way of withdrawing cash for emergencies through ATM.”
Credit cards, on the other hand, allow you to make cashless purchases, as long as the amount is within your “credit limit.”
“Credit cards [allow] us to initially borrow money from the card issuer for a certain limit and let us avail an item we need, may it be a product or service,” she says.
New York-based financial website Investopedia says that purchases made with a credit card means that you’re not spending any of your money yet. “Instead, you're spending the credit card company's money which you then have to pay back, potentially with interest.”
If you’re using your debit card to pay, however, you are actually using your money in the bank (without having to withdraw the money). The amount is automatically deducted from your bank account.
Building your credit points
“To easily have and take advantage of lower rates, the credit card holder should have to build a higher credit score,” says Jen. “Low interest rates are such a huge help in saving more for your personal loans, mortgage, credit card balances.”
Your credit score is a “statistical analysis” of how much money the company is willing to lend you. The more you pay your purchases on time, the higher your credit score will be. And if you have an excellent credit score, you can enjoy more perks and privileges!
“The more you pay in low interest rates, the faster you can finish your debts and you can have excess money for other expenses,” Jen adds.
Applying for a credit card
Like all things, credit cards are useful when handled properly. Jen says that if you have a credit card, you can enjoy sign-on bonuses, cash backs, reward programs, and universally accepted transactions.
However, it is also possible for a credit card application to be rejected. Some of the common reasons for this, according to Jen, are:
- Bad credit score
- Too much debt
- Unstable job history
- Incorrect information on the credit card application form
In case your application gets rejected, applicants are usually allowed to re-apply after three months.
Things to consider when choosing your first credit card
Your monthly income
According to Jen, knowing your cashflow helps you decide what kind of lifestyle you should maintain.
“If you are a fresh grad, you will have difficulty in credit card application approval. Banks are after low-risk, consistent payers so they will first look at your credit history,” she says. “Make sure to have an outstanding record in your banks and regularly deposit too.”
Ideally, cards that offer “no annual fee for life” are good for first timers! However, annual fees not exceeding Php 2,000 are also a good choice.
Late payment fees
“Be a responsible and accountable credit card holder and avoid those fees while you can,” says Jen. You can avoid penalties by paying your purchases on time.
Credit card perks
While most benefits are usually at the platinum level of credit card programs, Jen says that first-time credit card holders can still enjoy perks with continued use. “Just continue to use it and be responsible in paying on time to increase your benefits, may it be through travel, restaurant dining, or any other category you desire.”
“As a Financial Advisor, I know that everyone has different [grades of] income and lifestyles, so it depends on the situation. There’s no ‘best’ credit card for all,” Jen admits. However, she recommends carefully checking the details, fees, and charges for every credit card. Some of them offer free annual fees for the first year!
“Some credit cards they could choose are Eastwest Platinum Card, BPI Family Credit Card, Citi, Security Bank, HSBC, RCBC Bankard Gold,” she says.
To help you track your expenses and pay on time, Jen suggests using the calendar method to monitor your bills. Simply plotting your expenses and their deadlines on your most convenient calendar app makes a big difference!