If you don’t currently have a credit card, apply for one. Keep in mind the general guidelines below when completing your credit application. Don’t lie, but at the same time you want to present yourself in the best possible light. If you do not have any credit, your best bet in securing a credit card is to apply at places like department stores or gasoline companies.
These companies usually open your account with a very low credit line. If you start with one credit card, charge items, and pay the bill on time, other companies will issue you a card. When you use department store and gasoline cards, try not to carry a balance from one month to the next. The interest rate on these cards can be very high.
Once you are ready, apply for a regular credit card from a bank, such as a Visa, Master Card, or Discover card. Competition for customers is fierce, and you may be able to find a card with relatively low initial rates. Depending on how bad your credit history is, however, you may be eligible only for a low credit line or a card with a high interest rate. If you use the card and make your payments, after a year or so you can apply to increase your line of credit or reduce the interest rate. If you’re of a certain age, you probably remember the carbon paper that lay between the copy of your credit-card receipt that you kept and the copy kept by the business where you made the purchase. In those old days before credit card terminals, thieves could rifle through trashcans and dumpsters to gather the carbon paper slips and capture credit-card information so they could buy all sorts of things on your account.
Carbon paper has practically gone the way of the dinosaurs, but credit-card account numbers remain vulnerable. Receipts that include full account numbers and expiration dates are a goldmine for identity thieves. The “FACT Act” sets a national standard for truncation of card information.
The FACT Act says receipts for credit and debit-card transactions may not include the card’s expiration date or more than the last five digits of the card number. However, fully implementing this rule will take some time. If you receive a receipt that has your full account number on it, bring it to the attention of the business, and insist that they get with the program – now!