Credit Card FAQ's

Use your credit cards wisely and you will have the convenience of having a credit card without the danger falling deeply into credit card debt.

What is a credit card? A credit card allows you to borrow money from a bank to make purchases. As long as you pay back that money within the “grace period” of 25-30 days, you don’t have to pay extra. If you go longer, though, you’ll have to pay interest — a percentage of the money you owe — on top of what you borrowed. In addition to being a tool for short-term borrowing, credit cards can provide valuable rewards and perks.

How is a credit card different from a debit card? A credit card allows you to borrow money from a credit card company, with the agreement you will pay a percentage of interest on any outstanding debt at the end of each billing cycle.

A debit card pulls money directly from an associated bank account. Responsible credit card use helps build your credit history.  Generally, debit cards can’t build credit history.

How do I get a credit card if I have no credit history? There are plenty of options on the market for people with limited credit history. Shop around to find the card with the lowest APR and fees that you may qualify for. If you are having trouble being approved for cards, consider a secured credit card secured that requires a security deposit or ask a parent to add you as an authorized user on his or her card.

What are instant approval credit cards? Instant approval means you’ll receive a quick answer to your application for a new credit card. Typically, only people with good to excellent credit scores are granted instant approval.

What does it mean to be “pre-approved” for a credit card? A pre-approved credit card offer means that a credit card issuer has verified with a credit bureau that you meet its credit criteria and has pre-approved you as a quality candidate for its product. You’ll still need to apply in order to actually receive a new credit card, at which point you may still be accepted or denied.

How old do you have to be to get a credit card? 18 is typically the minimum age to apply independently for a credit card in the United States and Canada. However, people under 18 can be added as authorized users to their parents’ accounts.

What are a few ways to avoid some credit card fees once you have a credit card? Pay your bill in full and on time every month. Late fees can impact your pocketbook, and late or missed payments can also have a negative effect on your credit score.

Also pay attention to all mail received from your credit card company. While your card may not have had an annual fee when you signed up, you may receive communication that the terms and conditions have changed. You can choose to cancel the card to avoid the fee, but only if you know it’s coming.