What are credit cards?
Credit cards work by giving you a short-term loan (usually a month) with the expectation that you will pay off that loan every month.
Credit cards give you an advance on money that may or may not be in your bank account
Different interest rates
Best to pay off monthly to avoid fees
Credit cards can be useful for:
Travel (booking lodging in advance, airlines, etc.)
Building credit score
Secured Credit Cards
It can be difficult to obtain a credit card without any previous credit history. Because of that, secured credit cards are a good option. These are credit cards that require a cash security deposit. This can range from $200 to $500+. This deposit is used to protect the issuer in case you don't pay your bill.
Student Credit Cards
Similar to secured credit cards, student credit cards are aimed are young or first-time credit card owners in college. These cards tend to have lower rates, fees, and credit limits as well as less rewards. They also will rarely have an annual fee. Compared to other credit cards for individuals with poor or little to no credit, the fees tend to be less.
Some credit cards (usually ones with more rewards) will have an annual fee attached to it. For example, they may require you pay $100 a year just to have access to using that credit cards and its rewards. When applying for credit cards, be sure to look out for annual fees so you do not have to pay extra fees to use your credit card. When first starting out, it is the most important to build your credit and make on-time payments rather than pay for a credit card with better rewards.
One of the biggest benefits (and potential drawbacks) of credit cards is that they can help you build a credit score. Credit scores are a number between 300 and 850 that represent an individual's ability to pay off credit card debt and loans. Often times lenders, credit card issuers, landlords and even car rental facilities will look up an individuals credit score before approving someone for a credit card, loan or rental. For this reason it can be valuable to have a credit score, and to pay attention to how you are using your credit card to insure that you keep your score as high as possible. For more information on credit scores, check out the credit scores section by clicking on the tab to the left.