If you are at least 18 years old and have a regular source of income or savings, you’re on your way to qualifying for a credit card. But you still have to demonstrate that you’re a good customer. The proof is in your credit history, which lists the amount of credit you’ve received and how faithfully you’ve paid it back. If you’ve financed a car loan or any other purchase, you probably have a record at a credit reporting bureau. This credit history shows how responsible you’ve been with paying your bills on time and helps the credit card issuer decide how much credit to extend to you.

Before you submit a credit application, get a copy of your credit history to make sure it’s correct. Contact a credit bureau listed in the Yellow Pages under “credit rating and reporting.” To order a copy of your credit report, contact Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian. There is a small fee, usually $8, but if you visit our credit reports section, you can get a FREE copy of your credit report instead.