Credit myths debunked: Credit cards and credit card history

Credit can be complicated - there's no denying that. And because it's so complicated, confusing and important, it can also be very stressful. 

One of the best ways to reduce that stress is by combating misinformation. Unfortunately, there are a lot of common myths surrounding credit. We're here to debunk them. In our last blog in this series, we focused on the myths regarding the "right" number of credit cards.

Today, we're taking a look at mistaken beliefs about how much - if any - credit card history is needed for credit card applications. 

Be strategic about your credit card application.Be strategic about your credit card application.

Credit card applications

Credit card applications are pretty common these days. Some people receive offers in their mail just about every day. 

But there's a big difference between applying for a credit card and actually being approved for one. And there are many people out there who may be eager to obtain a credit card but hold off applying for fear that they'll be rejected. 

That fear is not entirely unfounded. After all, a credit card company is not going to give out its cards indiscriminately, and some applications simply won't pass. In particular, those people with relatively low credit scores are going to be seen as higher risk by credit card companies. 

However, that doesn't mean that if you're one of the 45 million Americans without a working credit score that you can't get a credit card. 

No credit card history required

That holds true if you've never had a credit card and have no credit card history, too.

"Your credit history and credit card history are not the same thing."

One of the key myths in this area is the idea that your credit history and your credit card history are the same thing. But that's not the case at all. While it's true that credit card history will play a big role in your traditional credit score, that rating also looks at other aspects of your credit history, including mortgages, auto loans and personal loans. Even if you are unbanked and have never owned a credit card, you could still potentially build up your credit score and successfully apply for a card. 

This is especially true when you take nontraditional credit into account. As we've covered before, nontraditional scores can be used to build up traditional credit ratings. Since nontraditional credit like PRBC takes into account a wider range of financial behavior - including payments for rent, utilities, phone bills and more - you can achieve a high score here through everyday examples of your credit worthiness. 

From application to approval

So, ultimately, the fact of the matter is that no matter your age or financial experience, you do not need to have credit card history in order to apply for and obtain a credit card. However, you do need to be careful when evaluating your options.

You may want to specifically look for credit cards for people with no credit history. These will not have the same types of bonuses and advantages that you'll find with more advanced cards, but even the most basic offering is a good starting point. 

If you have built up your traditional and/or nontraditional credit to a greater degree, then you'll have more options at your disposal. Remember to look at the available cards' credit limits, annual fees, interest rates and potential bonuses. And more than anything else, make sure that once you've been approved for and start using a credit card, you pay off your monthly bill in full and on time. Do that, and you'll be on the right track.

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