Over the past month I've added three cards to my wallet - Citi Dividend, Amex Gold PRG and Discover IT.
I've been in the rebuild phase for a year or so now, but with most activity since Jan. I've been carrying around two older starter cards with balances, both with perfect payment history - one opened and one closed: cap 1 plat & orchard bank.
After some initial cleanup a few months ago, I added two store cards via the shopping card trick- j crew and west elm.
So here's my full run down, with a proposed strategy going forward. Would love to hear what you all think of this in terms of maximizing my scores, upgrading to better rewards cards in the future and laying a solid foundation for future mortgage (down the road a few years).
- Cap 1 : Open, no lates. Oldest card, 2003. 800 CL, at 90%.
Has an AF. Med-High interest rate. No offers available for upgrade or CLI.
- Orchard Bank - Closed, no lates. From 2005. 700 CL, at 70% .
High interest rate. Paying down actively. Have been teased with possibility of reopening, but who knows, and why would I at this point?
- Chase - closed formerly WAMU, in a repayment plan. High bal of 2000, paid down to 500.
Only shows positive history (perfect payments with chase). APR is under 10% will be paid off in 7 mos.
- JCREW - CL 500. currently at 80% though planned to pay half this month half next, don't foresee much future use.
-West Elm - CL 4k, 10% usage.
New stuff -
-Citi Dividend - 2500 CL 0% apr for first year- taking advantage of current 5% promo at Home Depot for purchases I would have paid for in cash,
card is at 50%, but after this month will be paid down to around 10% . Will really only be used for larger purchases I may need to break into two.
Maybe PC in a year?
-Amex gold PRG - NSPL- replacing my debit card with this and making pifs as I go.
- Discover IT - 10k CL - 0% intro apr and 0% BT for 14 (18?) mos. Planned on using for BT only.
Other stuff on report : no major derogs, student loans are all fine. AaoA 13.9 years.
Thinking I will BT the jcrew, cap 1 plat and Orchard cards to Discover, then sockdrawer it to help my util. Maybe rotate with the Dividend depending on promos. The Chase I'm comfortable with leaving be. The apr isn't high, and it will be gone soon.
-How will BTing my closed orchard card will affect my scores?
-How to handle my cap1 plat account. It's my oldest card (though my Amex has been backdated to 2001- but that hasn't shown on my report yet) so I don't want to abandon it. It has a perfect payment history, but low CL compared to the newer offers I'm getting) and an AF. Maybe ask for PC once it's zeroed out?
I have been receiving other offers too, like Citi Thankyou. But not sure what use I have for it. Any offers I should look out for and pounce on if they come my way?
What're my next steps card wise?
Thanks for reading through this. Needless to say- the help I've gotten from these boards has been enormous. I went from the 560's to 668 in less than a year, and was at 690 prior to adding the store cards in March. So happy to be in the prime card club that I don't want to screw anything up!
[Edited for clarity]
I don't know how useful my advice will be but here are a few ideas:
1. No more cards for 91+days. Throw every offer you get in the trash UNOPENED. This is the hard part. Give your score time to catch up.
2. I can't offer help on the BT ideas other than to say if you can get lower interest with BT and that interest offsets the BT fees do it. Moving it to a card with a larger limit should help your UTL.
3. If the starter cards don't have AF keep them for a while. Remember even if you close them they stay on your report for 10 years. Soon you will want to close them so you don't need to explain them to prime card issuers if you ever need to recon. No huge deal but it's nice to say "I closed that card as I got better cards and it served it's purpose".
4. Your AAoA is awesome.
5. Welcome to the prime club. No more store cards. Ever. You might get some in store deals for having them but in the long run they don't help much. They cost you a HP to open and you need those HP for future PRIME cards (and for a mortgage with lowest rate you can get).
6. Pay off Chase card. Call to PC to a card like Freedom once paid off. If they will not PC apply for a new card with rewards that suit your lifestyle. Freedom for rotating categories or CSP for points for future travel and 2X dining. If you have to apply fresh pick a card with a nice signup bonus. DON"T PC to CSP.
7. Your AAoA is still awesome.
8. Pay off everything you can and use the amex charge card often. PIF. Eventually amex will show you more love even if you need to poke them to get it. Target them in 181+ days for a revolver that suits your lifestyle.
Love your screen name. I really enjoyed seeing a manzanita in person, the red bark on the branches is awesome (and I hope that's what the name means, if not sorry...)
Thanks for the feedback! Yes - manzanita like the tree, but also an equally beautiful coastal town in Oregon.
So an update :
1- I'm dumb. My AAoA is NOT 13.9 years. that's the age of my file. My AAoA is 7. *slaps forehead*
2- I went ahead with the BT, moving everything EXCEPT chase to Discover It. The offer is 0% on purchases and BTs for 14 mos and has a 10k limit. The total amount transferred is roughly 2700, including fees. Yes, it makes my util on that card 30%, but zeroes out a few smaller limit cards that were close to max. My plan is to pay this off before the promo ends. Even if I pay the amount equal to all of my previous minimum payments combined, that will brng me pretty close to removing all of this by next year. The 3% in fees is equal to 1-2 mos in interest, plus the convenience of one payment can't be beat.
- Didn't include Chase in the transfer because it will be gone in 7 mos, and I don't believe it's being factored into my revolving utilization. It's a repayment plan, so there's no Credit limit, my guess is that by including t in the transfer that debt would then get factored in (without the corresponding increase in available credit, as experienced with my open cards that will go from 75-90% to 0%) , thus hurting my utilization.
-I plan on tryng for a Chase card when all is said and done with the above account. Won't look for any additional credit until then.
-Store cards are zeroed out and sockdrawered. My feeling is that they set the stage for receiving offers from Citi & Amex, by helping my util. So they've served their purpose.
-Citi Dividend card is to be nearly PIF each month,
-Amex - I'm making weekly payments in full. Using it like a debit.
-Capital One Platinum DOES have an AF. Of course I'm having no luck getting them to PC. But it's my oldest card, going back to 2003 and has an excellent payment history. I really don't want to get rid of it.
So new questions -
- Any risk in zeroed out/sockdrawered cards being closed by the lender? Of particular concern is Cap 1 for reason stated above.
-How to deal with Cap 1 - From reading the boards, it looks like at this point I would have to go the EO route for a PC. Maybe I should give it time in the garden before I go in with "I'm getting good offers from competitors but I've been with you a long tme and would prefer to stay if I can change my product.." ? Any thoughts? I've tried the "See my offers" button as advised by customer service. Nothing.
-Oh and one last thing - Regarding Amex . With all of this shifting from the BT's, I'm worried that Discover will hit my reports with my new balance BEFORE the other cards report 0 balance. So, I'm thinking there might be a period of a few weeks where my report will show double the amount of debt. As a new Amex customer, I'm worried this will raise some kind of flag with them. From readng the boards I know they can be skittish...obviously nothing untoward is going on, but I think things will look messy before they look better (probably end of July before it all works out). Thoughts?
Thanks again for all your input!