4 Things to Do as Soon as You Get a New Credit Card

So you got a new credit card — congratulations! Hopefully you’ll soon be on your way to earning all sorts of rewards but first there a few things you should take the time to do. Here are the first four steps you should take before running off to use your new card.

Activate it

This may be obvious but it’s also important. Most cards can be activated by calling a toll-free number or going online. Typically a sticker placed on the card will give you more information on that. Additionally, depending on the card, you may also be asked to create a PIN either for using the card at ATMs or for verifying your identity when you call into their assistance lines. Once the card is activated also be sure to sign it (or write “See ID” if you prefer) on the back as many retailers will require this before accepting your card.

Read and file the paperwork

You’ll probably find that, in addition to your shiny new card, there are several pages of documentation enclosed in the package you receive. While you may be tempted to shove all that aside, take the time to look it over instead. Often times these pages will include important information about the card’s policies, your APR, and how you can earn/redeem rewards. 

Once you’ve read these documents over it’s also a good idea to file them away somewhere where you keep your other financial records. Even if all of the information sent to you can be found online it’s still worth having a hard copy just in case — websites can be changed instantly, paper documents cannot. Having a backup could help you down the road in the event of a dispute between you and the card company so keep those pages somewhere safe.

Explore the website and set up your payment info

Now that you have a card number, you should be sure to set up an account on the card company’s online portal. This is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the ability to make payments toward your balance. Don’t wait until your first bill is due to discover that you don’t know how to make a payment — add all of your info in as soon as possible so that, should you encounter any errors or stumbling blocks, you can get help and have plenty of time to spare.

Another great reason to explore these sites is because your card may come with additional perks you didn’t even know about. For example many cards have partnerships with retailers and restaurants to offer cardholders additional cash back on or coupons for purchases at their locations. Lastly you might find other helpful tools that could allow you to request a credit limit increase, view your purchases by category (to help with budgeting), or even monitor your credit score.

Sign up for alerts

Today many cards not only offer paperless billing but will also give you several options for being alerted when your bill is due. Whether sent via e-mail or text messages, you might be surprised at how helpful these notifications can be, especially if you regularly have things slip your mind. Of course it doesn’t hurt to also add your billing date to your calendars just as an extra line of defense.


No matter how old you are, receiving a new credit card in the mail can still be exciting. However, while your enthusiasm is understandable, it’s important to set yourself up for financial success before going to celebrate. By taking the time to read the terms of your card carefully, set up your payment info, and sign up to be reminded as your billing date nears you’ll prevent yourself from missing payments and hurting your credit. 

Author

Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded DyerNews.com in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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