I've been reading/lurking for about a year and posting occasionally, but I just wanted some help regarding my overall credit health. I'm a 20 year old college student, and I started building my credit last winter. I've been reading these boards religously for ideas, and although I have a fairly high understanding of how credit works now (well, at least for my level of experience), I still just have one major question: what more can I do to improve my credit?
Here are the cards I have with limits:
Victoria's Secret: 0/450
American Eagle: 0/350
Citi Forward (College): 600/2000
B of A Secured Card: 390/400
Wells Fargo Secured Card: 385/400
Citi Dividends (College): 0/2000.
I have about $15000 in student loans, no negatives, UTIL will drop to around 15% once Citi cards report, 2.5 oldest account (loans), 1.1 AAoA (might drop once Citis report), a ton of inquiries (10+) on all three reports (when I showed my dumb college student side and went on a couple of app sprees because I was so excited to get approved for store cards. I'm an idiot, I know)
The two Citi cards and Chevron were all approved within the last 2 weeks. Of course I know the most obvious course of action is to zero out the maxed cards, but even through my simulator it only shows a score bump of about 20 points, which would put me at 648 for EQ. My TU score is from a lender pull so I'm not sure about that score bump. I was proud to finally get up to my scores in my sig, until I researched and realized I still fall in the category of "poor credit", and the score bump would barelllly push me into "fair". Once I pay off those two secured cards, what should I do? The only two cards left that I want this year (after being denied last week for DiscoverIt student, B of A student, US Bank student, Amex green, and a CLI on CareCredit to $2000 for my dog's surgery) are the Walmart card for the TU Score, and Barclay for the Apple Financing. I plan to garden after that until next year when I'll try again for the Discover and Amex. But what should my next moves be over the next few months to year in order to improve my credit? I see people on here who are 20 like I am with scores in the mid-700s and I don't know why I'm falling so woefully short. ANY help would be greatly appreciated!
What you need to do is just wait. Charge a few small items on a card, let it report a small balance and then pay it in full. Then leave it at a zero balance and wait about 6 months. You will be between 680-720 within 6 months. You just have to be patient and don't apply for anything else and don't run up high balances on any of those cards. Your biggest score boost will come with time.
Alrighty, thanks for the advice! I keep saying I'm going into the garden, and then I make stupid mistakes (like my app spree last week) that throws everything off. I'll try to wait and be patient until at least next February. Would you say that I'm safe applying for the Walmart and Barclay Apple cards within the next 30 days so that all my inquiries will fall off within the same month (again, Walmart for the TU and Barclay because I need a laptop for school desperately), or have I already screwed myself too much with the app spree from last week?
You can try but you may get denied for inquiries, at least from Barclays. They are pretty weird about inquiries. Walmart, you might have a shot still but it will be a lower limit. Your decision is up to you. If you have a gameplan to garden after these two however, stick with it. You will only cause more damage the more you app. Within 6 months though, it will all start growing back again once you stop. If you're not applying for a mortgage in a year, then I'd say it's not really a big deal. Just know that once you do these two apps - that should be it for you. Otherwise you're going to come off as desperate down the line when you try to buy a car or something.
You were definitely correct about the limit on the Walmart card. I applied and got approved for the store card, but with a limit of $600 (I called for an immediate CLI but was denied). Once I apply for the Barclay card, I am COMPLETELY done until next year. I got a little app crazy because I was excited to see my scores in what I thought was a decent range (although I realize now is still below average), but I've opened 4 new accounts and more than tripled my total credit from $2100 to $7400 in two weeks, so I'm going to be responsible and garden and hope that with time my scores grow. It was just a bit disheartening to see people with derogs and BKs with starting scores higher than my current ones, but I'll just be patient and let the accounts age and avoid apps. Thank you for your help!