Got a New Credit Card? Do This as Soon as It Arrives

Apply for a new credit card: Check.
Receive and activate card: Check.
Download mobile app: Wait, why should I do this?

A lot of reasons, actually! If your credit card issuer offers a mobile app, you can use it to manage your spending, see your monthly statements, report fraud, and much more. Here’s why it’s a good idea to use your card issuer’s app.

You can easily manage your account

The first reason to get your card’s mobile app is that it’ll make it much easier to keep track of the card and your spending. If you get it before the card arrives, you might be able to activate the card from the app. If you need help with something, you’ll be able to reach customer service (possibly in the form of an in-app chat). If you misplace your card or accidentally damage it, you can lock the account or request a new card. Keeping tabs on your spending as it relates to your credit limit is always a good idea, and the mobile app will let you check how much you owe.

Your credit card mobile app will also come with the ability to set up mobile alerts for you to review your statement, see new charges, and even stop scammers. It’s a big, scary world out there, and scammers are just aching to get access to your money. If you see an alert for a charge you didn’t make, you can report it ASAP.

You can find ways to earn rewards

The odds are good that one of the reasons you use credit cards is to take advantage of earning points, cash back, or other rewards on your regular spending. Well, your card’s mobile app can help here too. Card issuers like Chase and American Express have sections in their mobile apps devoted to deals and offers for cardholders. For example, you might see an offer to get $20 back if you spend $100 or more with a particular retailer.

I don’t recommend using these offers just for the heck of it (spending $100 you didn’t intend to spend just to get $20 back equals a loss of $80), but if you spot a retailer that you normally shop with, by all means, add the offer to your card via the app if you’ll use it. Note that it’s rarely automatic that you get the cash back or extra points just for shopping at that retailer; you usually have to click the offer to add it to your card.

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You might even get credit score access

Some of the best credit cards offer cardholders access to their credit scores. And the cream of the crop will provide your FICO® Score, which is particularly useful because it’s considered by 90% of lenders when they’re deciding if you can borrow money (and the interest rate you get). I recommend prioritizing finding a card that offers this underrated perk, and you’ll likely be able to view your FICO® Score right in the mobile app, wherever you are.

If you can check out your FICO® Score anytime, this gives you a leg up on managing your finances. You’ll be able to see where there’s room for improvement to your score and get a jump on making the necessary changes (such as paying down debt or getting better about making on-time payments). And if you’re gearing up to borrow money (say, by getting a mortgage), you’ll know where you stand before a lender takes a deep dive into your finances.

As you can see, your credit card’s mobile app comes with all kinds of useful features. So when that new card arrives, download the mobile app and put it to good use.

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