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What I wish I knew before getting my first credit card part 2.

Getting your first credit card is an experience that’s hard to forget. It could’ve coincided with some major life changes, like moving out of your childhood home or taking a year off before your first semester at college. Seeing your name on that little piece of plastic may have solidified your
newfound independence.

You’d carry your card in your wallet with pride. Your new grown-up status could’ve meant using your card to buy the things you needed, while treating yourself to a few indulgences every now and then. The problem may have come when “every now and then” turned into “more often than not” – leading to potential statement shock at the end of the month. Oops!

What you may not have realized when you got your first credit card was the responsibility that came with it. Perhaps you didn’t think about how your purchase and payment behaviour could impact your credit score. And speaking of your credit score, you might not have known its importance.

The credit card – more than a means to buy stuff.

Most people know the basics – get the things you need today, pay for them tomorrow. But did you know that your credit score could be a factor in helping you land your dream job or that sweet apartment near your favourite coffee shop? 

Read on to learn how to use credit to your advantage — beyond purchasing a monthly subscription box of artisan treats for your dog.

Your credit report.

Your credit report contains facts about your behaviour with credit, such as your payment history, available credit, and the number and age of the credit accounts you have open.

Credit reporting agencies will generate a credit score – typically a number between 300 and 900 – based on your report. And, just like a report card — the higher the score, the better.

Why is your credit score important?

Your score gives lenders an idea of how responsible you are with credit. Do you make your payments on time? Do you have a history of exceeding your credit limit? Lenders review this info to get a sense of how likely/unlikely it is that you’ll meet your end of the bargain when it comes to important financial agreements.

Say you need a new car, a good credit score can help you get approved for a loan or a lease. What’s more, it can also help you get a lower interest rate on that loan.

You’ve found your dream job! Did you know that some employers review your score when considering you for a position?

Looking for a place to call home? Your landlord may take a look at your score before handing over the keys to your new abode.

Your score may also be used by lenders to decide whether they will do business with you – they’ll look into how much it will cost and what options they can offer. To sum things up, it can affect the interest rates you get, your lending and credit options, your ability to rent property and your eligibility for certain jobs.

Building and maintaining your score.

Now that you know how credit plays a part in everyday life, you can work toward using it as a tool to help achieve your financial goals.

Here are some ways to create healthy habits that could pay off in the future:

● Be careful not to spend more than you earn
Create a budget and stick to it
● Stay within your credit limit
● Make your payments on time and try to pay more than the minimum payment to help reduce interest charges
Check your credit score regularly with Credit Keeper™ from Capital One to see how it changes over time

Hindsight is, well, you know. But taking a look at your goals and making a plan to achieve them may offer you some reassurance about using your credit card as a financial tool.


The credit score and report information provided by Credit Keeper is intended for educational purposes only. Lenders and other commercial users may use a different type of credit score and other information when making credit decisions. Credit Keeper is currently not available to residents of Quebec.