Getting Your First Credit Card

Smart credit card usage can help build up your credit score and history, preparing you for bigger financial moves in the future.

When I got my first credit card in 2003, I used it only to make small purchases, such as my Internet service, which was about $25 a month at the time. Then, over the holidays one year, I used it to buy pricey Christmas gifts for my family that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to afford. I also made a couple more not-so-smart purchases -- including several shopping trips to the mall to buy clothing I wanted, but definitely didn't need -- using the card. Unfortunately, I could only afford to make the minimum payments, and it took me nearly two years to pay off the balance. When I finally did, I thought about the hundreds of dollars I'd paid in interest, and it was enough to make me take the card out of my wallet so I wouldn't be tempted to use it so carelessly again.

SEE OUR SLIDE SHOW: 7 Great Credit Cards for Students and Young Adults

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Andrea Browne Taylor
Contributing Editor

Browne Taylor joined Kiplinger in 2011 and was a channel editor for covering living and family finance topics. She previously worked at the Washington Post as a Web producer in the Style section and prior to that covered the Jobs, Cars and Real Estate sections. She earned a BA in journalism from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She is Director of Member Services, at the National Association of Home Builders.