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How To Get Approved For Your First Credit Card- 5 Actionable Tips

- Nov 27, 2020 Building Credit, credit, First Credit Card13 comments

The best way to build your credit is by getting approved for credit cards. But, hey! How do you get approved for credit cards without having credit? That’s like saying “Oh, you don’t have money? Buy a business, and then you’ll have money.” Yoo-hoo! How do I BUY that business?

So, you’re looking for credit building credit cards. 

Here’s some tricks to help you get approved for your first credit card.

Credit Piggybacking- Authorized User

Remember getting piggyback rides (aka hitchhiking) on your older brothers back? The most common way, and by far the best, of getting approved for your first credit card is by being added as an authorized user on someone’s credit card. It can be your parent’s, spouse’s, or friend’s card. 

It works as follows:

Once you’re added as an AU (authorized user) on someone else’s account, the credit card company will report the credit card on your report to the 3 credit bureaus, with all the credit history. So let’s say you’re added as an AU to a credit card account that was opened 10 years ago. Your credit report will suddenly show that you have already built credit for 10 years! This may seem funny, but it’s a fact!

Not every bank will report an AU to the credit bureau, and not all report the complete history (back dates).

Check out this list (and make sure to provide the bank the AU’s social security number):

Amex yes no
Barclay yes yes
Bank of America yes yes
Chase sometimes yes
Citi yes yes
Capital One yes yes
Discover yes yes
HSBC no no
US Bank yes yes
The best is to get yourself added as an AU to one or two credit cards that are open for a minimum of two years, and have a perfect payment history. The AU will show on your report after about 30 days (you can check on Credit Karma and see when it shows already). And then you will be able to get approved for a low-end credit card. Try a Discover It or a Capital One Journey, at first, as my past experience was that they are more likely to approve you.

Keep in mind that the same way the good credit history gets reported, so does the bad. Therefore, do not add yourself as an AU to any card that has any delinquent payments or high balances. It will do more harm than good.

When being added as an AU, try to use your own address- not the primary cardholder’s address – as the address used will be the address that will show up on your credit report.

Secured Credit Card

Give me your money. No, I’m not stealing it. I’ll just hold onto it for you- when you need it, I’ll give it to you. This is what some banks do. 

They offer you an option of a secure credit card and they ask for a deposit of about $500. They then approve you for a credit card with a $500 limit. So, basically, they are lending you your own money. (Feels good, doesn’t it?)

People don’t like this option, because first of all, you need to lock up the deposit. Secondly, lots of people don’t even get approved for a secured card either. (If you have a banking relationship with that bank then you up your chances of getting approved). Check out the best-secured card options here.

What should I look for when opening a secured credit card?

Look at the fees

Some secured credit cards charge annual fees (and possible additional fees as well).

Make sure it will help

Some secured cards don’t report your account activity to all three credit bureaus. Even if you use the card responsibly, it may not help you build your credit history.

Consider the source

Some of the major secured credit card issues, like Capital One and Discover, offer secured credit cards. But most secured cards are issued by banks you may have never heard of. Be sure to do your research to make sure the issuer is trustworthy. 

Look for bonus features

Some secured credit cards offer additional features. For example, free FICO scores. Some cards also offer a chance to earn rewards or to pay a reduced security deposit. 

Even if the AU way is probably better and easier, the secure credit card option is also a solid way for getting started on building credit.

Banking Relationship

Banks like their clients (especially the good ones) and they want their clients to like them back. So if you have a good banking relationship with a specific bank, they may approve you for a credit card. Being that you’re a client, they want to give you a fair chance to prove yourself.

What is considered a good banking relationship?  

We’re talking $10,000 plus in your account, but at times even $1500 will do the trick.

It is worthwhile to give your bank a try. Even if you get declined, you’d want to call up and ask if they can reconsider. Tell the representative that you have a good banking relationship with the bank, and ask them to recognize you and give you a chance of proving yourself in the positive sense. 

(In the past, if the first representative did not want to approve me, I called again and again until I found a representative that was ready to approve me.)

Bank Of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo are known to take a client’s banking relationship into consideration and help get approved for their credit cards.

My experience was best with Chase Freedom Student. If you have a Chase account, definitely give it a try. And if you get declined, try calling Chase Lending Services at 1-800-453-9719 to see if they can reconsider their decision.

Store Cards

A store card is a credit card offered by a store or brand. Think Gap, Kohl’s, Home Depot, etc. The credit card is designed to be used for purchases within the store. Store cards often come with many store-related perks, like discounts, bonus points on store purchases, free returns, and more.

Many store credit cards can be used just like any other credit card- for purchases outside of the store.

Store cards are usually easy to get approved for, even for newcomers to credit cards. But, you will usually only get approved with a low credit limit (sometimes as low as $200), and they often come with a very high APR on balances.

Store cards can be a good start. But keep in mind that store cards are not counted by FICO as a regular credit card, and in the long run, will not help build credit as much as a regular credit card. So after having the store card for a few months, make sure to get yourself approved for one or two typical credit cards as well.

Joint account

This option allows you to have someone with a great credit score to co-sign your card. This option is probably best only if all the options above failed (I don’t think this will happen. But, hey! You just never know).

As of this writing, ONLY the Us Bank, Amex Macy’s card, and Bank Of America offer the option of getting a joint credit card account.

Update: Starting in May 2021, you will be able to add co-applicants (joints) to Apple Card as well

Good luck on getting approved for your first credit card!

Frequently asked questions
Which card should I apply for, for my first credit card?
Capital One Journey is a great card to apply to. It’s more likely that they will approve you, over other card companies. Discover It is also a great card.
What should I do if I got rejected for a card?
That’s a bummer! But it’s not the end of the world. Firstly, you may want to call the bank's reconsideration department to see if they can possibly reconsider your application. You should also ask the credit card issuer why you were rejected. The feedback will be valuable for the next time you apply. They may tell you that your income is too low, or that you lack a credit history. Based on the feedback you should consider a lower-end card, store card, or a secured credit card option. Getting yourself added as an authorized user on someone else's account will increase your chances of getting approved in the future.

Was this article helpful?

Sam Sam has nearly a decade's worth of experience educating his many readers on everything credit. Sam spends his days checking out credit cards for a full report, from the minute benefit details to the shebang of welcome bonuses. Plus studying the ins and outs of building proper credit. It’s his favorite pastime and he loves sharing it with others.

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  1. Great Post!

    • Thanks Dave!

  2. Great and very informational!!
    Was looking for a site like this for a long time now, will be using this for all my cc needs from now on!! Thanks Sam!

    • I am happy that you are enjoying our content. We will keep it coming!

  3. Great website!!

    • Thank you for joining!

    • Thank you all for joining

  4. Great post very informational, Clear writing and simple, easy-to-follow
    I love your sense of humor SAM!
    Cant wait for the next post [I wish you would’ve posed more often ]

    • Thank you so much for your feedback!

      Please join are subscription and receive a new post to your email every week!

  5. It’s hard to find educated people on this subject, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about!

    • Thanks a lot!


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