I love my debit card — everything about it. Between the securities it provides me to its ability to keep my spending in check, there is nothing not to love. As I entered the real world, however, I was confronted with both a devastating and terrifying truth: I needed to get a credit card. Even though I knew this day would come, I still had many suspicions about this new, unknown card.
Fear of Fees
Spending money that isn’t yours and that you may not even have is all part of the credit card game. However, due to my lack of awareness, I had no idea what the rules would be or how much they would cost. Between APR, balance transfers, transaction fees and late fees, it was hard not to get anxious and confused. However, it turns out that the best way for me to conquer this fear was to do my research to understand credit card fees and how to avoid the traps.
Fear of Liking It
One of my biggest anxieties was that I would actually like using my credit card. The thought of credit becoming my card of choice or beginning a life of debt was nothing less than unsettling. The only way I was able to cope was the comfort of knowing my first credit card would most likely have a small credit limit, helping me to control my spending. Also, the ability to use online banking 24/7 to track my spending helped make credit card debt seem less likely.
Fear of Choosing the Wrong Card
As I knew very little about credit cards, I was concerned that I would end up choosing the wrong one. After copious research, I determined some personal guidelines to pick the best card. I decided the only cards I would apply for would have no annual fees, an APR in the low double digits and free access to my FICO score, since establishing good credit was my main reason for getting a credit card. Every other mileage point, cash back reward and waived balance transfer fee was just an added bonus.
Fear of Rejection
Out of all of my fears about credit cards, this was the most personal. What if, after all my anxiety and careful research, I got rejected? This fear, while initially stressful, turned out to be ultimately irrational. After shopping around, I learned that, though I didn’t have any credit history, someone would want me. One of the easiest ways for me to get approved was through my bank, since they had a record of my responsible spending, proof that I would make a good candidate. I also looked into secured credit cards, where you give a bank a monetary deposit as collateral, which ends up being your monthly limit, in the event that you are unable to pay your bill.
While I still feel that a credit card is nothing more than a necessary evil, I have learned to accept my fate. I have even come to realize some of the benefits that come along with having a credit card, like heightened fraud protection, credit history (if you can maintain it) and even some extra occasional perks are worth the risk. Though there will always be a place in my heart for my debit card alone, there is now a space for a credit card, too, but only in my wallet.