Ask the Readers: When Did You Get Your First Credit Card?

By Ashley Jacobs on 1 March 2011 (Updated 8 March 2011) 121 comments
Photo: liz west

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Lance, @gadha, and Kandace Coupons for winning this week's contest!

I have a confession: I have yet to bite the bullet and get my first credit card. After hearing all the horror stories about people going into debt because of credit cards, the concept of getting a credit card just isn't that appealing to me. I probably should have gotten my first credit card in college, but I thought that might be an irresponsible decision since I didn't have a full time job and (consequently) wasn't bringing in enough money to feel comfortable owning a credit card.

When did you get your first credit card? Did you have a stable job at the time? Should you have gotten a credit card sooner or later? What is the best age for someone to get their first credit card?

Tell us when you got your first credit card and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Enter 1 of 3 Ways:

  • Post your answer in the comments below, or
  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, then "Like" the update mentioning this giveaway (you can comment, as well — but you don't have to for entry), or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, March 7th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after March 7th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email, Facebook, and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
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Brenden

I got my first two credit cards in college. I'm pretty sure I got t-shirts for both of them. Those ended up being expensive t-shirts.

Guest's picture
Von Berry

I applied for and received my first credit card when I was in college. I was working and really wanted a floppy drive for my computer. As you can guess this was quite a few years ago. It took me several months to pay it off.

I think having a stable job is required before you think about a credit card, whatever the age.

Guest's picture
Erin

In college. It was supposed to help me "build my credit", which I suppose it has, but it's also a too-tempting "fallback" for sudden expenses and big purchases.

Guest's picture
Maria S

20

Guest's picture

Good for you! I got my first credit card (a Sears card) around the age of 22 or 23, soon after landing in my first post-college job. I used it to buy my first television. Having said that, I think the ideal age to get one's first credit card is: never. I still use credit cards, but I use them strategically. However, they have done me and my family far more harm over the years than good...no question.

Guest's picture
Raina

I think it's great that you're using your credit cards strategically, but I think it's unfair to say that no one should ever get or use a credit card. There are those of us who have never misused them, never paid a penny in interest, and have enjoyed the convenience and rewards.

Guest's picture
Heather

Got my first one senior year of college to buy a Macbook - I paid it off before the 0% introductory interest rate wore off. I got my first real one (with a proper APR, not the overinflated one from Mac's Juniper Bank) when I graduated because I realized I needed to build a credit history. I'm a "cash mentality" person (ie. terrified of debt) so I pay it off in full every month and reap rewards in the form of Amazon gift cards...which I use for household items I would have bought anyway or Xmas presents.

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Christie Struck

I got my first credit card in college, it was for emergencies, as my dad paid the bill, but if I did buy something for myself, I had to have the money ready to pay him. Even now, I make sure that I have the money before I purchase something and pay off the credit card every month. Living within your means may not keep you up with the neighbors, but you're not in debt up to your eyeballs either! Freedom!

Guest's picture
matt

I was 19 and a freshman in college. Amex was giving free airline tickets with cc signup (this was 1985) I got one without having a job or any income what so ever. Looking back it was a huge mistake on a slippery slope that lasted for close to 20 years. I no longer have a credit card and manage just fine with cash and debit card.

Guest's picture
Therese

I got my first credit card after I graduated from high school and had a steady job. I was eager to establish a line of credit so I could buy a house and get married.

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Brea

I got my first credit card when I was a sophomore in college. The only job I had at the time was working 1 day a week at a retirement community making about $100 every 2 weeks. The credit limit was $1,000 and I maxed it out almost immediately. I then opened another card with a limit of $500. Also maxed that out quickly. It took me almost 2 years to pay them off entirely since as a full time college student I couldn't work enough hours to earn a real income.

I'm glad that I got it when I was so young and made that mistake early on. I know how painful it is to live with a debt that seems impossible to pay off so I live life debt-free now. I haven't had a credit card balance in years (that I didn't pay off with my next pay check) and I'm working on getting enough money in savings to put down a 20% deposit when we buy our first house next year.

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Amy

I was glad to get my first credit card in college - working part time and the card was attached to my credit union account. Glad is the right word here because later - when I needed it - I had good enough credit to rent a home, and later buy a home. Starting early helped me learn money management!

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Heather

I was foolish and applied for my first credit card in college. I wish I had not, but it helped me afford living at the time. I still have that card - almost 20 yrs later. I don't have others.

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Angie

I got my first credit card when I was in college. It was a $300 limit card secured by my checking account at my bank. And I still have my card.

Guest's picture

I got my first credit card at 18. It was a Discover Card with a $1,000 limit. I don't even remember applying for it...it came in the mail..pre-approved I think.

I have no idea with that APR was and at 18 I didn't know enough to look.

It could have been wise if I used it to build my credit. Instead I used it to buy my books (innocent enough) --- once I realized how easy this spending money you don't have thing is I started to go shopping! Only making the minimal payments and 2 more cards for a total of 3 maxed cards by the end of my sophomore year!

Guest's picture

I got my first credit card when I was 18. My bank provided the card.

I really wanted to start building credit - so I got the card - and then always paid it off on-time - or even before the due date. I've had the card for three years now, and I'm about to cancel it because I've moved to a different bank.

Guest's picture
missyllewe

Canceling your card at such a young age may have a negative impact on your credit scores. I would suggest for you to keep the card and use it once every few month on something small (like filling up your car), then pay it off immediately. This will keep your account active and current.

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Kristin

I got my first credit card my freshman year in college, but I never charged more than I could pay off at the end of the month.

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raene

I got my first credit card when I started college, under my parents' account. No job. It was necessary to buy books without having my parents' there.

I got my second credit card, the first under my own name, when I started an internship in the summer of Junior year. I think it was a good time for it - I had seen how much college books and living expenses could cost for a while with my parents' help, and could see how much I needed to spend on on a regular basis.

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Janette

I got my first credit card right after I got my first job in 1979. I promptly bought some things that I have never used (a brass place setting service). My parents paid off my card $2000 just before I married. They felt I should have no debt entering marriage.
They did a good thing for me since I learned my lesson. Although I have had a number of cards (and closed most of then), I have never been in debt again. I learned lay away when the kids were little. That is how I got my silver place settings in 1982. Too bad that is not really an option now.
We have been debt free for five years now- no debt at all. It is difficult to even think of buying something over time at this point. I just don't want to deal with the "bills".

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Sweta

I got my first credit right after turning 18. I was told that you had to have a credit card in college. Luckily I've always been good at paying the full balance each month.

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Nicholas

I got my first credit card around the age of 18... after High School and before College. I did not have a full-time job but I did have a stable part-time job. I am happy with when I got my credit card, I always knew how to use the credit card and would not overspend on things I didn't need. I think the best age is around 18-20... when they get out of High School and have a stable job so they understand money management.

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Raina

I was probably 18. I was just shy of my 18th birthday when I moved out of my parents' house and became a full-fledged adult, responsible for my own bills and expenses. I was working full-time and had my own apartment, and my parents and I agreed that a credit card was the best way for me to build credit. I've always been a financially responsible person, though, so that credit card wasn't going to force me into debt.

I think it really depends on an individual's responsibility and the financial values instilled by the parents as far as when someone is "ready" for a credit card. When paid in full every month, it can have great benefits (convenience, cash back rewards, points, etc).

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Emily

I got my first card in college. I had a student job so was perfectly able to pay my bills on time. Paid in full on time, every time. I wanted to start building credit as soon as possible. I'd been an authorized signer on my parents card for a few years before. I think people should get cards whenever they are responsible enough to use them properly. Age is, after all, just a number.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Good point Emily!

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Nadia

I got my first credit card when I was 21 and a full time college student with a part-time job. Even though I had enough money to buy the Ipod I wanted, I worried about spending that much money all at once, so I decided to get my first credit card. After doing MUCH research on the best cards for students, I finally settled on a Citicard with a 1 year introductory rate of 0%. I paid off the full balance in 2 months and still have this same card 5 years later. The rate has since jumped to 8.4%, but I continue to use the card for occasional purchases and always pay the balance in full.

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RYAN

I got my first credit card right out of high school at 18. I received a preapproved offer from Capital One in the mail.

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Kelly

I got my first credit card about 3 months after I started my first full-time job, but not for the reason you'd think. I'd always thought that I wouldn't need one - I'm frugal and wasn't living above my means. Then I had to pay a plane ticket for a work trip from my own checking account. My employer was a non-profit and pretty strapped for cash most of the time, so they preferred that things like that go on employees' cards to be reimbursed later. Having only been working there for a few pay cycles, and being just out of college, let's just say I didn't really have the spare money in my checking or savings accounts to pay for both the plane ticket and rent. After selling some clothes, changing all of my coins, and borrowing $15 off of a house mate, I did make rent that month... and applied for a credit card immediately after dropping off the envelope with a partial rent check and $75 in cash.

I still never carry a balance, and I now have cash to cover emergency expenses even beyond plane tickets, but I've also learned the value of postponing costs for a full pay cycle or 2 for larger items - and enjoyed my ability to do so.

Guest's picture
Kelly

I got my first credit card about 3 months after I started my first full-time job, but not for the reason you'd think. I'd always thought that I wouldn't need one - I'm frugal and wasn't living above my means. Then I had to pay a plane ticket for a work trip from my own checking account. My employer was a non-profit and pretty strapped for cash most of the time, so they preferred that things like that go on employees' cards to be reimbursed later. Having only been working there for a few pay cycles, and being just out of college, let's just say I didn't really have the spare money in my checking or savings accounts to pay for both the plane ticket and rent. After selling some clothes, changing all of my coins, and borrowing $15 off of a house mate, I did make rent that month... and applied for a credit card immediately after dropping off the envelope with a partial rent check and $75 in cash.

I still never carry a balance, and I now have cash to cover emergency expenses even beyond plane tickets, but I've also learned the value of postponing costs for a full pay cycle or 2 for larger items - and enjoyed my ability to do so.

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Carrie

I got my first credit card in during my freshman year in college (late 1990s). I think it had a limit of $250 or something ridiculously low. Actually, it's still my only credit card. I was sort of scared of it and paid it off religiously. I'm no longer scared of it (and the limit has gone up), but I still pay it off religiously.

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Dana V.

I didn't get a credit card until my early twenties when I was living in Chicago. I never used it much because my father taught me that if you don't have the cash for something, you don't really need it.

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KelR1

I was around 16, and it was a card that my mom co-signed on, but I had my own card with just my name on it. I first got my truly very own CC at 18.

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Mariel

When I was 29 years old, it took me very long time, but I managed to do it with a respectable bank, and I am happy for it.

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Reader

As a senior in college in order to build credit. It was a well thought out decision, not an impulse.

Guest's picture
Roxanne

I got mine in college, but I never ran up the balance as so many young kids do. I just like to save money too much. I've always paid off the balance every month and only let it go over if times were tight.

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Alex

I got my first credit card my freshman year in college. Discover Card. They were always all over campus.

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Dory

I got one in college. An Amex Student card. I still have it, 7 years later!

Guest's picture
Sklib

I got my first card from my school's credit union the beginning of my junior year of college

Guest's picture

I got one at 20 when I signed up to get a free baseball hat. I had no credit, no job and nothing, but still I wanted the hat and I thought it was a cool way because I was sure I would be rejected.

I put my parent's address down as my home address. To say the least, when my mom saw the card in the mail, I got a tongue-lashing. I did tell her the hat was nice though.

Guest's picture
Eric

Junior year of college at one of those free tshirt/sign up tables

Guest's picture
Guest

I got my first credit card (and a Costco membership card :D) shortly after my 18th birthday. I didn't have a job at the time I got my credit card, but about a month after the school semester started, I obtained an on-campus job that guaranteed 20 hours per week. Regardless of whether I found a job or not, I would pay off my beginning-of-the-semester credit card bills (which consisted of mostly textbook expenses) with the student loans that I take out every school year, and my parents would pay the bills for the non-textbook/non-school-related bills, which are seldom since I pay for groceries and other necessities with cash (from my own checking accounts btw. I don't rely on my parents. They've got their own expenses to worry about.). I think 18 years of age was the perfect time for me to get a credit card. If I didn't, I would not have been able to get a jump start on building good credit.

I don't think there is a "right" age to get a credit card. It really depends on a person's maturity level and ability to think logically and use reason regarding financial decisions. For me, I was raised to be frugal and conservative with my hard-earned money, so even as a young, fresh-out-of-high-school student, I did not spend a lot of money needlessly. I also knew that credit does not equal money. I do not swipe my credit card unless I already have the money to pay off the balance at the time of purchase. In the end, it's not about what age we should be to get a credit card, it's about our financial decision-making values and our knowledge of how to spend wisely.

Guest's picture
Yana

That's a hard question to answer, as I don't remember exactly - but I know I was over 25 years old, because I got declined at my bank at that age. I wanted a Visa, and the application was the same as for overdraft protection. I never had an overdraft and would be a banker's dream, except that I never pay them any fees :P

I may have gotten a Capital One secured credit card first to establish credit, and then AAA offered me its AT&T Universal card. I was 30ish. I remember that Universal card asked me if I wanted more credit, like naming my limit, and it was already at $8,000. I didn't feel a need for more.

Guest's picture
KG

I got my first Credit card when I was 18. Then ended up giving me a credit limit of 7500 some how. I didn't have a job, but I did know not to spend money I didn't have.

Guest's picture
Eric

I got my first credit card in college. I didn't have a job at the time, but had savings and magically didn't use it incorrectly at the time (creating debt)!

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Beth D.

As soon as I turned 18 my mom took me to the local bank and signed me up for their credit card so I could "have a credit history." That was the only explanation I got and since I didn't really understand anything about interest and fees, etc., I racked up a good $18k before I wised up and educated myself. Now I am debt-free, but sorely missing the $18k I could have saved instead of spent!

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kathy w

I got my first credit card at 18 and I had a stable job. I think it depends on the person on when they can get their first credit card. Some can handle it and if they act responsible.

Guest's picture
Revanche

I was working part time and going to school full time when I got my first card, and it was only intended for tuition and books. I used it only for necessities and never carried a balance so I've generally always profited from the use of credit cards but I was lucky enough to have been a reader of the Fatwallet Forums nearly as soon as I graduated from high school so I knew how to use them to my advantage.

In an ideal situation, I suppose, age doesn't matter as much as knowledge and self control - if you have the knowledge and the desire to use the cards responsibly then I think you can.

Guest's picture

I got mine right before college to build up credit. I never missed a payment or carried a balance. Closed it after graduating to get a better card with rewards.

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Angela

I got my first credit card at 18. I do think that is the right age to get one. It's helpful to have in case of emergencies. I was in college and working part-time and have never paid a bill late so my credit is good. I think it is important to fully understand the risks before getting a credit card.

Guest's picture
Melissa Baker

I got my first credit card about the time I went to college, so when I was 20, I think. I was a college student and had a small income. I managed that one well, actually, but when I got more credit cards, I ran up too much debt. The first one I got was with Chase. I still have an open account with them, but I do not use that card anymore since they jacked up my interest rate for no reason.

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Eric

I got my first card when I was 18 though I never used it until I was 20. Paid off in full every month ever since.

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Joshua C.

I got my first credit card as a junior in college. I did not have a stable job at that time as I was in school full-time, but with a part-time job. I think that was a little bit too early as I was in the midst of other students who were "consumption" minded, and I racked up quite a bit of cc debt. I think the best time to get a cc would be once you are working full-time... not to spend money before receiving it, but using it to pay for big ticket items.

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Heather

I got my first credit card when I was almost done college. I'm wiser about using it now...

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Debra F

I got my first credit card at 18. I think it was a JCPenney card

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Guest

I got my first credit card in college. Sears came on campus and was taking applications from students. I had a part time job at the time. I kept that credit card for years.

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Joel

I was 14 or 15, trying to get a head start on building a credit history; w/ my dad's permission, I got a card in his name and added myself as an authorized user. It's been great for my credit history, though even as someone with a "savvy in personal finance" self-image (fed by a lot of reading) I did at times get sucked into spending more than I should have.

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Jill H.

When I started my first job after college!

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Lance

I got my first credit card when I was 18 to start building my credit. I was very responsible with money though and have never carried a balance and I am now 24.

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Gina

I was 18 when I got my first credit card--way too young to know any better!

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Guest

In college...yup, i was one of the suckers who wanted the stupid freebies...ATT Universal card.

Guest's picture
Allison

I got my first credit card in college... I was 18 or 19, I think. It's never been a problem, and in fact has been beneficial to me - I cannot fathom spending more than I can actually realistically pay off that month (unless it's an emergency, in which case it's very nice to have a high-limit card so I can deal with potentially expensive emergencies that might arise), I get the "cash rewards" benefits from the card, and it gives an extra layer of protection between my purchases and my money (buyer protection, protection against identity thieves - I had my identity stolen once from using my debt card at a gas station, before I got my credit card.) Plus it's helping to build my credit, which hopefully will help when I decide to buy a house someday. So as long as you're responsible about it, I don't think credit cards are a problem.

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Brian R

Got my first credit card in high school from my parents to teach me responsability

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Lynda

got my first card (capital one) when i was just going to college. i got it through an ad mailed to me. i think it was the perfect timing for me cuz it helped to teach me independence at a perfect time.

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Bethany

I started using my first credit card when I was about 15. For some reason, Visa invited me to join my dad's account. I started working at 14, so I think it was a great way to understand the value of working and managing my own money at a relatively early age. When I turned 18, I opened my own account and closed the account with my dad. At this point, I'm 26 and have 10 years of great credit behind me. Can't buy that...or, wait...

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Jen

I got my first credit card in college---you know, when they give you a free t-shirt for signing up. Blast them all for that.

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Katie R

When I was a sophomore in high school, I got a credit card with a $300 limit before a trip to Europe with my history class. It allowed me to shop in Europe without having to worry about exchanging money or carrying a ton of cash. Plus, since the limit was so low, my parents were completely comfortable with me having it. Another benefit: since I kept this card (and I still have it active, although I don't use it), my credit score is improved by my 10 years of credit history.

Guest's picture
KP

I got my first credit card back '92, when I was just a freshman in college. In fact, I still have it and must admit it's still my favorite credit card; because it pays to Discover. ;)

I worked and always tried to spend based on what I could afford to pay off at the end of the month.

Guest's picture

Law School. (I still could not understand what most of the fine print said).

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Trish

I got my first credit card on my 19th birthday. At first, my aunt suggested I never get one. But I was moving away, and she suggested I go with one of the pre-approved offer in the mail as LONG as it had no annual fees.

I've had a wonderful relationship with plastic since. I have four (two of which are rewards/store cards) for the sole reason that I just want to track my spending from that particular store...if I ever have trouble, at least I'll know where to look first.

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Lindsay Pond

I got my first credit card at 18 -- just before starting college. I had a plan that I'd always pay it off within 21 days of every purchase...and to my parents' surprise, I always did!

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JT

I got my first credit card at 16 and it was co-signed by a relative. It had a $300 limit and taught me an important lesson about finances. After I graduated high school, I raised the limit and took a Spanish immersion trip to Mexico that I financed mainly through that credit card. It took me almost 3 years to pay it off! I shudder to think about the amount of interest I paid. I still have the card today with a $1000 limit, but with a zero balance. I either use cash or debit, or credit only if I know I will pay it off at the end of the month.

Most people say "Sixteen- that's way to early!" But I responsible and my family taught me about finances at a fairly young age. Having the credit card before college was just another step in introducing me to the real world before I actually entered it.

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TK

Technically, I got my first credit card about five years ago when my mom put my name on her account to build my credit, but I never had a card. Her account had been around for 12 years at the time, and I actually was able to build up credit that way. I got a credit card about 4 years ago through my bank. I got the card for car-related emergencies before moving cross-country.

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Tyler

I plan on on going to the bank today and trying to get a student credit card.

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KC

My mom instilled the fear of the credit card gods in me for a long time, so I didn't get my first until sometime after I graduated college and had a job. Think I would have done fine with one earlier, but I didn't miss what I didn't know.

Guest's picture
Mel

I got my first credit card when I was 17 and just about to start college. Because of a combination of my age and their desire to watch out for their firstborn, it was a joint card with my mother - my parents have excellent credit - and I was given the following instructions:

0. Treat this like a debit card. Pay in full every month.
1. You are responsible for checking your own statement and making your own payments.
2. Buy every purchase you possibly can with this credit card. (I had already been raised to not buy anything unless I absolutely needed it, so this instruction did not result in wanton spending.) It will make financial reviews easier for you.
3. There are some things (textbooks, etc) we will reimburse you for - IF you keep clean records, save receipts, and write us with justifications in a timely manner. These reimbursals will be made to your bank account. You are still responsible for your credit card.

I got a job on the campus library soon after and almost never asked my parents to reimburse me. Sometimes I'd see my friends getting credit cards, student loans, cars, etc. and being less fiscally responsible. It was one of my goals to become financially independent from my parents before graduating from college, so I would occasionally talk with them when I was home for breaks about some of these other spending habit styles, giving my clumsy teenage analysis of short-vs-long-term tradeoffs for them, always getting reassurance and confirmation that my (boring, frugal) money habits would put me on the track I wanted to be on.

Sure, I worked multiple jobs on top of studying full-time, and organized late-night pancake parties (a $20 giant bag of Costco pancake mix lasts all year, just add water and tell your friends to bring things to put in/on the pancakes) instead of hitting the city for dinner, but had excellent credit by the time I graduated at 21 with no debt and enough in savings to intermittently travel, volunteer, and intern for a year before starting my first full-time job. Once I did, I found myself ahead of the curve when preparing project finances for work - I already knew how to track statements, justify spending, and so forth.

I'm 24 now, and starting to look for my first house. If I ever have kids, this is how I want to introduce them to credit.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

That's great your parents gave you clear instructions as to how you should use your credit card. It sounds like they really set you up to use your card responsibly!

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Carson M.

First time I got a credit card was my sophomore or junior year in college. It was one of those cards that are specifically designed to attract financially uneducated college kids and I fell victim far before I was ready to use/own a credit card. I did have 3 different jobs at the time, but the combined income was barely enough to pay for books, supplies, transportation, the typical student necessities...and thus, not nearly enough to take on ANY kind of credit card debt.

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Jessica

I got my very first credit card right before I went to college, I was probably 18. My mom wanted me to have a credit card while I was away for emergencies. I only had a $500 credit limit, so I couldn't do too much with it, and I knew it was only for emergencies. But, once I got to college, I also got sucked into getting two new credit cards. I think I got a phone card for them (I had a long distance boyfriend at the time). I ended up canceling one since I only remembered signing up for one, but it can become a slippery slope of spending.

Guest's picture

I see some people got the "free t-shirt" with a new credit card deal on college campuses.

I got my first credit card just before heading to college. Didn't use it much back then. I still have the same card, and I don't carry a balance on it. Pay it off each month and build up rewards points.

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AMI

I got my first credit card when I was in college, 19 years old. It didn't get it from one of those booths they set up on campus and give away "free" t-shirts. I worked for a financial company and an attorney who dealt with collecting medical debt so I was introduced to the horrors of owing money at a good point in my life.

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AndyG

I got my first credit card in my junior year of college. I didn't use it much because my parents had raised me to save up cash and then spend. It has helped me to control my credit card expenditure a lot.

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Debby

I got my first card the way a lot of people do, I suppose -- from one of those booths on a college campus. It had a $500 limit, and I even remember my first purchase (at Disneyland for a snowglobe that I still own). I still have the card, although it has a zero balance and a lot higher credit limit now! :-)

I had a steady job at the time, so I feel that the $500 limit was appropriate for my circumstances. With that limit, I couldn't get into trouble with the card until they increased the limit so much that it became an enabler. I think that's a bigger trap than the granting of the card itself.

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Brenda

I am 53 years old and got my first credit card when I was 18, fresh out of high school and working full-time as an accounts receivable clerk and part-time as a dental assistant. My favorite Aunt gave me a wallet for my 18th birthday that had 12 slots for cards and I was determined to fill each slot and successfully did. I have battled with credit card debt all of my adult life and just 2 years ago decided that I needed to rid myself of all credit card debt, I closed 9 credit card accounts and have kept 1 card that only has a limit of 750.00 that I pay off each month. I have reduced my credit card debt from a high of 54,000 to 36,300, my credit score has increased each month since I have started my journey of credit card debt elimination.

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Celester

Right when I turned 18

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Sarah

Age 18, in college. Luckily (or not), my parents gave me such a great example of what not to do that I never had or have carried a balance.

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lsharp

Right after I graduated college. My Dad told me to get an American Express card so I would have to pay it off every month. It got me into good credit card habits and I have never carried a balance on any of my cards

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Stefanie

My parents were really big on having me learn how to manage money at an early age so my dad cosigned for me to have a credit card at 15. It only had a $200 limit (it was like 1985, so that was a decent amount then) and his only requirement was that I had to budget my money to pay it off every month (from babysitting, gifts, odd jobs, etc.). After a year of proving I could handle it, he increased the limit to $500, then $1000. By the time I left for college I had a $2500 limit and a kicking credit score- which enabled me to apply for a credit card without my parents.

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Gil

Got my first credit card soon after I turned 18. I used it ONLY for gas. Since then, I've never held a balance (ever, that's over 10 years of using cards). I think if you get a card and you're just starting out, know what you're going to use it for and just keep that mindframe and you'll be good to go (i.e. Only groceries and gas. Or only at a certain store. etc). That's help you build up credit and keep you from overspending on things you want but don't need (and go into debt). If you think you can't be disciplined with a card, best to just pass the temptation of having one.

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kristina wittchen

I got my first credit card when I was 18.

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jim

i received my first credit card at the age of 20 .when i had to get a loan to help pay for a semester of collage.the bank gave me an application when i got the loan.i used the card for 30 yrs. then i paid it off & had some problems with some of my other cards.then they canceled the card for lack of use. biggest credit mistake i ever made i no longer use any of the credit cards.i now save up the cash pay for the item. debt is no longer an option.

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Elizabeth

When I was in high school. My dad helped me get a credit card as soon as I was old enough so I could learn how to use it (pay it off every month) and start building a credit history.

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Heidi

19 I think

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HokieGirl

I got my first credit card my freshman year of college. I was one of the few who kept it paid off every month! I was enticed, of course, by the cool homage to my university with a beautiful picture right on the card!

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Cheryl

19 years old, JC Penney card. HUGE mistake on their part giving me credit!

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Guest

Got my first credit card my first year in college. I used it to only pay for gas and paid it off every month. It replaced using my debit card at the pump so it was a simple transition. It taught me that I need to pay off the balance every month. Haven't paid interest on a credit card purchase ever.

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Bellen

I got my first credit card shortly before I graduated from college June 1968. Shell Oil sent all seniors at Univ of Connecticut, and probably every other college, an application. I filled my out, got my card immediately. At the time the card was only good for gas and related products at Shell gas stations. I used it for years paying the balance off each month. That was easy as gas was less than $1. a gallon !!

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Kelly

I got my first credit card about a year out of college. I did have a stable job. To be honest I didn't really want it (I still only use it for a few charges a month) but I realized that I needed to actually start building credit. It's a small $500 secured card, because that's the best I could get with no credit history. Around the same time I also got a Nordstrom card with a $200 limit.

It's been a few years now and those are still the only ones I have, and I can't see any reason to get any more.

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Christina

I got my first one when I was 19. But I was very responsible. I made purchases I could afford, and paid them off when the statement came.

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Ingrid Gonzalez

I actually got my first credit card in high school. I swore it was only to be used for "emergencies" but then suddenly EVERYTHING became an emergency. Thankfully while I didn't have discipline in using it, I do have discipline in paying it off, never once being late to pay it, but I wish I'd have had a better financial education growing up.

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Kate

I got my first credit card at 16 when I got my license. I still had to pay for my own car expenses but my parents wanted me to have a back up in case I ever got into an emergency out on my own. But it was still under their name. I think I got my first self owned credit card when I was 19. I didn't really need it per say but my older brother was trying to buy a house at the time and was having trouble getting a loan because he basically didn't have any credit history. So my parents thought it would be a good idea to start my own card at that point.