|What other things should newcomers bear in mind before opening an account?|
For someone who is just starting out, if they see an offer or they get an offer for a credit card in the mail pitching credit lines of "up to $10,000," let's say, they should be keenly aware of the keywords in that offer. Just because it says you might be able to get a credit line of "up to $10,000" doesn't automatically mean that you'll get that amount. As a matter of fact, if you're new to the world of credit, you're likely to get nowhere near that amount. They will look at your credit history when they decide how much credit you actually will receive.
|Does it matter where you open up the credit card account?|
There are times when a credit union may offer better rates and better fees, but in the end, your decision regarding your choice of credit card should be based on what it's going to cost you. A credit card, basically, is a commodity, and you have to look at what it's going to cost you should you carry a balance. You need to know what interest rate they're going to charge you and what the fees are. And then you need to look at what additional benefits the credit card issuer is going to offer you.
|Who should consider applying for a secured credit card?|
Secured credit cards are there specifically for people who cannot get an unsecured card for one reason or another. Such people, in most cases, have had credit card problems in the past and so they are just not eligible for an unsecured credit card. And a secured credit card is a terrific, legitimate way for certain people to establish or re-establish a good credit history.
|When should a responsible son or daughter get a credit card?|
This is not something we at Consumer Action take a hard and fast line on. This is a personal decision for parents to make, because they best know how their child is going to behave or what sort of decisions they will make.
Having some prior experience with a credit card before they're out on their own -- as, perhaps, an authorized user on their parents' credit cards, for example -- could be helpful, because eventually your children will need some understanding of how credit cards work. It's crucial that children understand the importance of paying bills on time from early on, and they need to fully understand the impact using or abusing a credit card will have on their credit score and how that score will affect their lives. That history is now, basically, your lifetime "credit report card," and everyone is going to want to take a closer look at it to better determine how financially responsible you have been and what degree of risk you pose.