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Opening Your First Credit Card? Don’t Forget To Do This

Opening your first credit card? Don’t forget to do this

Your first credit card can be a powerful tool.

When used correctly, it helps you build your credit. The higher your credit, the closer you are to reaching your goals—homeownership, a new car, you name it.

But with any credit card, one money-smart move remains key—saving.

Why saving matters even more with your first credit card

Credit cards come with good news and bad news:

  • The good: You have a convenient way to spend.
  • The bad: You have a convenient way to spend.

While it’s easy to use your new credit card for planned purchases, it’s also tempting to charge impulse buys.

Treat your credit card like cash

“When it comes to having a credit card, it doesn’t make budgeting less important. It makes it more important,” said Dupaco’s Noah Kachelski, a coach in the credit union’s Great Credit Race.

Make room in your budget to pay yourself first. An emergency savings account helps ensure you have money available when the unexpected happens.

The goal: Only use your credit card for purchases you can pay off each month.

“It should be a last resort to dig into your credit card when you know you can’t pay it off,” Kachelski said. “When you use your card and can’t pay off the balance, you start paying interest on it. And then you still have the normal expenses you used your card for before. It’s a spiral that can be hard to stop.”

Learn how to stick to your budget with your credit card

Tips to help you save

Thankfully, saving doesn’t have to be complicated! Especially when you use the tools available within Shine Online and Mobile Banking.

Here are a few ways you can start saving more to prevent using your new credit card for unplanned expenses:

  • ChangeUp Savings: Have your “loose change” from debited transactions automatically deposited into your savings account. You can activate or deactivate the feature anytime in your Shine checking account detail page.
  • Automatic transfers: Specify how much and how often you want to save, and Shine will do the rest, helping you make saving a priority.
  • You-Name-It Savings accounts: When saving for something specific, like emergencies or vacations, it helps to set money aside just for that purpose. Using separate You-Name-It Savings accounts (that you name!) makes it easier to protect money for your specific goals.

“I’m a big proponent of our You-Name-It Savings accounts,” Kachelski said. “You can have as many as you want. I personally use eight, and all of my money is moved where it needs to go automatically so I don’t have to think about it.”

Kachelski encourages his racers in the Great Credit Race to save this way, too.

Great Credit Race update

In the race, 12 Dupaco members are competing to build their credit scores from 0 to as high as possible in six months.

Nick remains in the lead with a score of 801, with racers Emily and Jimmy tied for second at 704.

Kachelski, who coaches Emily, said the racer uses her Dupaco Visa credit card sparingly. And she never carries a balance from one month to the next.

“It’s better to buy something little that you already planned to buy and pay it off right away so you don’t forget about it,” he said. “Especially when you’re building your credit, you want to make sure you’re staying within your budget so you don’t get underwater.”

Many of the racers just started their college careers, which will put their credit-building skills to the test. While away from home, it might become more tempting to rely on credit.

“There will be situations where individuals make little mistakes,” Kachelski said. “There is some of that real-life experience that has to happen. This race is a safe way to experience it, because we are literally here for them as their coaches to make sure they’re doing as well as they possibly can.”

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