Getting a credit card is essential for building your credit, buying a house, renting an apartment, or getting approved for a cell phone. They also often have cash reward and travel reward programs attached to them. When you buy things with a credit card, you essentially are getting a short-term loan for the card’s bank that you are expected to pay back in full later, which means you also have to be careful about what you use them for. In this blog, we’ll break down what you should know before getting a credit card.

Look at rates and fees

All credit cards are required by law to disclose their rates and fees before you apply for them. These rates and fees are shown in what’s called a Schumer box. The Schumer box will show you the annual fee you must pay to keep your account, the APR or annual percentage rates, the foreign transaction fee, and the late fee. You need to keep all of these numbers in mind before deciding on a card to apply for.

You start with low credit

When you get your first credit card, you’ll start with a low credit limit to minimize the risk of the credit card issuer. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, because if you’re not used to managing a credit card, a high limit can quickly put you in over your head. You don’t want to get saddled with constantly accumulating debt for years and years. Speaking of…

Always pay in full

When you pay your credit card bill, it often offers a “minimum payment” option, or what the minimum amount you must pay to keep your account is. It may seem like a good deal to just pay the minimum amount, but the remaining balance rolls over to the next month and accrues interest, meaning you pay more in the end. To avoid this, always make sure you’re not buying anything you can’t afford to pay off later, and always pay your bill in full each month.

These are just a few of the many things to consider when buying a credit card, but they’re the most important. If you are careful about what card you choose and avoid debt by paying off your whole bill on time each month, you’ll be able to build good credit and reap the rewards.