It should go without saying, but don't spend more with it than you can pay back. Keep a very, VERY close eye on how you use it and do your best to pay in full as opposed to making the minimum payment. It's also best to not impulse-buy anything and to set a budget. If you plan out how much you'll spend with it every month, then you can make sure that you have the money to pay it off as soon as you can.
There's no monthly/yearly fee on them?
If I make payments asap, will I have to pay anything extra? (say I buy something with a credit card that cost $20.34, if I make a payment for it, will I be charged exactly $20.34?)
And your credit gets bumped up if you pay your monthly payments ontime too! I say get one from your bank and just have the one. Don't sign up for any others that stores offer as there are sometimes hidden fees and things.
I highly recommend you get one, but only if you know you're going to be responsible with it. Its very important to start building credit at this age, but its also very important to start on a good note and pay your debt on time. I know you probably don't need to hear that because you know already, but you'd be surprised. Only use your card for simple things that you know you can pay off. Try not to spend anymore than $100 altogether.
But that's assuming you get approved. If your primary -- and, from the looks of it -- only source of income is from grants, I don't think you'd get approved directly from any banks, and that's where I highly suggest getting your card from.
I got my bank credit card when I was eighteen or so (one and a half years ago) from my bank. It has integrated SPC and one Air Mile for every 20$ spent on the card. I now have around 750 or 800 Air Miles amounting to about 12,000$CAD in purchases over the last year and a half.
My first purchase was about 350$ - this small Acer computer and a laptop bag on Clearance at Staples. I also bought a RAM upgrade that I did in-store (to the awe of the employees lol)
But you're right. Never buy more than you can purchase through cash/debit, and always keep an eye on that balance. It's very easy to overspend on a credit card without even realizing it simply because you can't see that balance and may misjudge how much you've actually blown already.
There was a month I was almost in trouble. My credit limit had been boosted to 1,000$ because of an error in payment that left me broke for four days (I had paid the 500$ in my bank account and for some reason, it took four days to go through. It never does that so it was hard to plan around it). I had purchased to make and food to buy so I had to boost my limit. That somehow led to spending another 700$! I think I bought some furniture, but it was risque and I almost couldn't pay it all back on time lol So just be very careful because even the best budgeters can get caught in the trap
You have about 21 days from a statement to pay it back in full before interest tacks on.
Also, on another note, I use my credit card mainly for online purchases but also because my debit card has a per-month transaction limit of thirty that I typically use just through bank transfers and bill payments. Mastercard wants you to spend so they don't limit your transactions per month, which means I can avoid any sudden 1$/transaction fees for going over my limit.
Just be smart, and as someone else said (Mac?), don't spend more than you actually have on-hand. If you can't pay it with cash or debit, don't buy it.
Ideally, you'd want to get a card from a credit union (or bank, but credit unions are better) that has easy to use online banking. As soon as you use your credit card on anything, go online and make a payment. It may take a few days for the bank to get the charge from the card, but if you know exactly what you spent you can make a payment in advance and it'll all be covered and you'll have no worries. Or you can check the same day every week and pay off what you owe. Or you just do what works for you. But doing this means you can't spend what you don't have. Well, I mean, you can, but if you've got a system in place and you stick to it you'll always have a good idea of how much money you have.
Establishing credit is important for buying things in the future like cars and homes. While, yes, you can overspend and get into debt, if you're responsible you'll have good credit in the future. I personally don't have one cause I'm unemployed and I probably wouldnt be approved, I just use my debit card. I'm not opposed to getting one in the future when I can afford to.
Also, don't delude yourself into thinking spending more and paying more raises your credit more. Overspending tends to lower credit scores and also highly increases the likelihood of not paying off the debt. Just something I picked up.
The best thing you can do when you find yourself in the hypnotic grasp of the almighty plastic money dispenser is not live above your means. Having a credit card means being responsible, able to prioritize, and having a firm grasp on your financial situation. It's real easy to become disillusioned by the power of invisible money.. but as long as you play by their rules and keep a tab on everything, you'll be fine.
There's also a lot of benefits to having a credit card. Like, 1% cash back on your electric bill bwaha. >:3
I'm getting one, just so I can start building credit. I was thinking of going to Victoria's Secret and starting one there. I think they start you off with $250 and then you're bumped up every month if you pay it all off. I don't think I'd use mine all that often though, I have a debit card already.
I think as long as you're responsible with one, get it!