How to maintain your score after getting your first credit card
The most important factor in your FICO score is payment history (35 percent). This is where you can make the most scoring impact with your new card by making sure to pay your bill as agreed, on time, each and every time. In fact, if I were you I’d aim to make your payments early just to be safe.
Figure out the best way to remind yourself to pay your bill so that you are never late. I use my bank’s online bill pay service. The day I receive my statement, I set up the payment to be received by the card issuer before the due date. As long as you have the money in your account, you’ll never be late this way. However, you should do what works for you. Just be sure you’re not late or sending less than the minimum payment due.
Second to payment history is credit utilization, weighing in at 30 percent of your score. This represents how much of your available credit you are using. Here again, you are in the driver’s seat, so take it easy. Maxing out a card is never a good idea, no matter how long you have had a credit card. But because you are new to credit, you will want to be extra careful.
Keep your utilization low, between 25 and 35 percent of your credit line max. If you can keep it lower, that’s even better. If you never charge more than you can pay back within a month, you will never pay interest on your credit cards and you will never find yourself in credit card debt.
If you do find yourself contemplating a purchase that you cannot pay back all at once, I suggest you try to make sure that you can pay it back within 90 days. Not only will this minimize the amount of interest you will have to pay on the purchase, but it will keep your credit utilization from creeping up as you use your card for regular purchases during the month.