I was just talking to some of my female co-workers/friends (who are rather close in age to myself) about what their first credit card purchase was, and how old they were when they made it.
One of them said she was 18 and bought a television, which she slowly paid off in monthly instalments. She's now encouraging her two college-age daughters to do the same (although TVs are so cheap today that a computer would be a better choice if you want to pay that off little by little).
My friend said she just now got her first credit card (always used her debit card previously) and bought a winter coat which she plans to pay off in full when the bill arrives.
My first purchase, back when I was between 18-24 yrs old, was either a black purse (from JC Penney I think) or a book (from Tower City in Cleveland). I think it was the book as I probably used a check to pay for the purse. I still have the book (and the purse), which cost $25 and is called, "He Was a Midwestern Boy on His Own" by Bob Greene.
When my husband moved to America with me back in 2004, he was advised to get a credit card in his name, charge something on it, and then pay it off in instalments(I think that's what we were told, but it was a awhile ago now, so can't quite remember), in order [for him] to establish credit. How funny that you have to accummulate a little debt in this country in order to establish credit.
I had a co-worker back in England who probably still doesn't have a credit card, though I'm quite sure she has a debit card. She told me she never trusted herself with a credit card. Judging from how much clothing she constantly returned, she might be right not to trust herself. In fact, I'm sure if I had to pay cash for all my purchases, I probably wouldn't buy even half the stuff I come home with. However, at least my husband and I can always afford to pay off our monthly bill.