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daybreakgonesXe
Posts: 1,864
Registered: ‎11-17-2012
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"Start From Scratch" Credit Builders Handbook

[ Edited ]

If you are starting from scratch, I recommend this step-by-step program. It is an edited for correction and differing scenerios version of how I built up my credit as soon as I turned 18 and could apply for my own things, and I'm sure it'll be helpful to you :smileyhappy:

 

1.) Check all three of your credit reports. If you have nothing on it, then you are fine, don't worry! It's good to start with a clean slate. If you have accounts on your credit reports, make sure that:

 

  • These accounts are correct. Did you cosign on a personal, auto, or mortgage? What about being an authorized user or joint account holder on a credit card? If you don't recognize the accounts and/or they are definitely not yours, dispute them immediately.
  • If these accounts are reported accurately, are they in good standing? If they are not, and you are an authorized user (you are not responsible for payment on the accounts), according to the credit card act, authorized users are not "suppose" to be reported on your credit report. However, they often do anyways, especially if you reside in the same household. If the account is not in good standing, or soon to not be, dispute these as well. If they are in good standing, and will remain that way, feel free to keep them! Can't hurt to have a little extra good!
  • If your reports are clean, and those cosigned and/or authorized user accounts are okay, proceed to step 2. If you had to dispute, wait until the disputes are settled and then proceed to step 2.

2.) *sergi0wned Recommended Tip* Sign up for free credit monitoring/scoring services. Though the scores are "FAKOs" (essentially, not a real FICO), they can help you monitor your reports weekly/monthly/every 6 months, depending on the service. Especially helpful if you can't access a report through the 3 bureaus, or lost a report # for them! The top four ones are:

 

  • Credit Karma: Let's you pull your TU report every 7 days, and includes a CK, VantageScore, Auto Insurance, and Home Insurance score. Though all of the above is pretty much useless (the VantageScore is less useless than the others), it shows you what aspects can make your score go up and down. Really, this service should be used to keep up with the subtle changes in your credit report, as well as help you keep a lookout for potential credit card apps on the horizon. Has many credit card statistics and reviews.
  • Credit Sesame: Let's you pull your EX score once a month. Includes a CS score. Very hard to manage your credit report through this service, since it doesn't itemize your report. Many people prefer this FAKO over others, so definitely worthwhile to keep track of your EX. Oftentimes will give you offers for 0% financing, auto, mortgage, and credit cards.
  • Credit.com: Let's you pull your EX score once a month. Includes an "Experian Credit Score", as well as a FICO and VantageScore estimate. Although it doesn't go into as much detail as CK, still one of the best to go through your EX report to keep up with open/closed accounts and inquiries.
  • Quizzle: Let's your pull your EX score every 6 months. The score is a FAKO. Let's you go through your credit report, and recommends credit cards and gives credit statistics.

Also important to note that if you currently have accounts with the following banks, CU, and lenders, they will offer a FICO scoring service with paperless statements and/or other qualifications:

 

  • DCU - Gives an EQ FICO
  • PSECU - Gives an EX FICO
  • Walmart Credit Card/ Walmart Discover Card - Gives a TU FICO
  • Merrick Credit Card - Gives a TU FICO

If you have money to kill, or an important loan coming up, also feel free to pull one or more scores from myFico.com! However, just starting out may result in no FICO score or a "disappointing" or "inflated" FICO score, so it's important to stress what's IN your report as opposed to what your score is.

 

3.) Assuming you have perfectly clean, but little-to-no history reports (as a builder should have), do some research on credit cards BEFORE applying for anything and everything that is offered to you. What are your credit card goals? What about loan goals? Make a plan, and map it out. When starting out, you have to be a bit strategetic before you can just waltz into a store and sign up for a CC for that 20%, or that wonderful sign up bonus you see in the ads. Now, you have a few different paths, so pick according to your situation, or feel free to use a combination if you fall into more than one category!

 

4a.) Student - 0-6 month credit history: Have nothing on your file? Just had a student or auto loan post onto your credit report for going away to college? Had a parent add you as an AU on their card less than 6 months ago? Chances are, you can't get approved for anything. Here are my recommendations:

 

  • Go for a student card, before going the secured route. As a college student, it can get troubling if you're not good at saving for that rainy day and you now have a good chunk of cash stashed away for a credit card (but of course it's better to save!!).
  • The Capital One Journey is simply the easiest to get right off the bat. They will approve for $500, plus you earn 1.25% rewards on your purchases for on-time payments. With the changes going on with Capital One, CLI are more realistic and they may even convert the card to a Platinum card with rewards! It's really fantastic for starting out, with absolutely no annual fee.
  • If you have a primary bank or CU, contact them about a student card, especially if you've banked with them for a while. Can't hurt to ask, and who knows what they could offer you!

4b.) Student - 6+ months of credit history: Has that student loan been reporting for a while? Already an authorized user on a few cards, or maybe had a car loan going since you got your license? You're doing great so far on your credit building, but that pre-degree income may not land you with the top credit cards easily. Here are my recommendations:

 

  • Capital One Journey Card - Still by far the easiest, and less likely to be denied based on your already building credit history.
  • Discover It for Students - Since you already have 6+ months of history, they will look favorably on this since you now have your own credit score!
  • Citi Forward/Citi Dividend for Students - Harder than IT, but still, they will look favorably on that credit score and will be easier to be approved since it's made for students (preferably with some history, like you have!)
  • Any Other Student Card from another Bank or CU (preferably if you have a banking relationship with them! if you don't, it's better to apply for the cards above)
  • Store Credit Cards - Typically, these cards are easy to get as long as you have no negatives and have a decent credit score, which you will, even with limited history. Comenity's "shopping card trick" may help you score that J. Crew card you've been dying for!

4c.) Non-Student, 0-6 months of credit history: Decided not to pursue a degree and working hard? Already in the work force after getting your degree(s) and never gave a thought to credit before? No worries! There is still an option!

 

  • Use prequalifier sites for CC companies/stores that are easy to get, such as Capital One. They may actually recommend you an unsecured card even with little to no history. If you are NOT prequalified, I would not risk it. If you are offered the secured Cap One card, make a mental note and come back to it if you need it.
  • Talk to someone at your bank or CU. Have a good chunk of change in their accounts? Bankers and management could help push through an unsecured card for you!
  • No luck with any of the above? Secured route will be your best bet. You will have to throw down some money into a savings/CD to back the credit limit of the card. Try to get one through your bank or CU, and ask if they "graduate" the card. This means that they will unsecure the card at some later date and will return the deposit to you! Bank of America and Wells Fargo are known to do this. Some other banks or CUs may be able to too, just make sure to get all the details before you do!
  • No luck with any of the above? Remember that Capital One secured card we mentioned? You may have to go that route. Though it is not a bad card to build history with, it absolutely stinks that at this point in time, they will NEVER unsecure and your money is stuck with them. Only way to get your money back is to cancel it. But, if need be, hold onto it for at least a year, at the bare minimum 6 months, until you have at least one other card to work with.


4d) Non-student, 6+ months of credit history: Already had a car loan or two (or three, or four, or...you get the point). Are you an authorized user or joint account holder on a family member's or significant other's cards? Cosigned for a mortgage? Your good, (hopefully!) steady income could help you "jump the line".

 

  • If you have at least 6 months of history, and are able to get a credit score, you can "jump the line" by applying for some decent cards on your own. My recommendation? Go on any and all prequalifer sites that you can. Enter your info, see what pops up. Apply for one or two of those reasonable cards!
  • Apply for store cards, and check out the Comenity cards that offer the "shopping cart trick" (preapproval of certain store cards at checkout). Your short, but good history will help you qualify for many store cards. Again, only apply for one or two of them. Or, get one regular and one store card! The choice is yours! Try not to exceed 2, absolute maximum 3, while you are building.
  • Receiving some preselected/prequalified mailers? You can try those too! Anything that's targeted to your profile means you are more likely to be approved. However, be reasonable. You may be an authorized user on you dad's long-forgotten AMEX, but that doesn't mean you can get approved for a CSP or the like since it is not in your name and may be overlooked. Go for the middle tier cards with great rewards, like Chase Freedom, AMEX BCE, etc.
  • Still getting denied? Are you SURE you have 6+ months of perfect, clean history?! Though there may be something else that's inhibiting you, take the secured card route, or contact your bank/CU about a unsecured/secured card.

4e.) New to the Country - Never experienced the credit world before? Or if you have, moving to the United States means whatever you had before, practically does not exist in the US credit files! Here are your options!

 

  • You know that favorite AMEX card you had in your previous country? Or maybe some other global banking entity that has roots/branches in the US? Contact them and explain how you had such good history on the card, but are now moving and need a card for the US. AMEX and potentially other creditors may be willing to help you open a US-based card!
  • *tornadoguy recommended tip* Try establishing a relationship with a local bank or credit union that you would like a card with. While not as instaneous as some of the options, if you open a checking account with one of the banks or a credit union and make a large deposit or regularly input your salary into it, it may assist in getting a card. The limit may be small, but its a foot in the door.
  • Capital One For Newcomers - Just like there are student credit cards for people with little to no history, Capital One has a version for people new to the country. Definitely worthwhile! Other banks/CUs may have a version too.
  • Have family members who have been in the US for a while add you as an authorized user on POSITIVE credit accounts. This will help you gain history while you get used to living in the USA!
  • Secured Route - Everything else failed? Looks like the secured route is your best bet as well. Find a bank/CU that's convenient for you to plop down some cash and get your first US credit card! Again, try Bank of America or Wells Fargo for secured cards that have the potential to graduate!

 

Don't think you have to get a million cards to start out with!! One card in your own name is perfectly fine to start out with for at least 6 months. You will build positive history and a score, and make it easier to score other cards (Discover IT, Wells Fargo, BoA, etc.), or that favorite store card you've been eyeing! By 6 months-1+ years, you should have 1-3 cards in your arsenal. By the 1+ year mark, you may apply for the "better" cards. Again, be sure to research. Having a $500 Cap One and a $500 store card at one year may not guarantee you that Chase Sapphire Preferred at a $5k limit...you still need to work up to it! Try for a Chase Freedom instead, or maybe a BoA Better Balance! Something with great rewards for the average credit profile will get you into those higher tier cards and limits! Don't waste inquiries if you can help it! Trust me, it won't be fun applying for everything under the sun in the beginning stages and by the time your credit is built up enough, you have all these inquiries to explain away that will lead to FURTHER denials for better cards!

 

And, if possible, try to receive soft pull credit limit increases every 4-12 months (depending on the company). This will help you grow your limits and obtain a better profile.

 

Again, don't rush!! It took me about 2 and a half years to get the collection I have. This "slow and steady wins the race" paid off, as you can see my credit limits and approval of better cards trended upwards!

 

Though it is an option I don't fully recommend, many people on the forum  have had success with applying for as many cards as possible in the beginning stages (6 months-2 years). This can result in:

 

  • Cards you absolutely have no use for or dislike (such as subprime lenders and/or store cards. It was nice to receive that Victoria's Secret card, but if you're a dude who has no use for it...well...)
  • Low limits, especially on the middle-tier cards you pushed for. That $500 Chase Freedom was great at first, but now you realize you're paying it off too many times a month, or that the limit just doesn't meet your needs. Now you have to get a hard inquiry for an increase that may or may not happen! Personally, I waited a year and a half to apply for the Chase Freedom, with only 3 cards and a student loan in my arsenal and relatively low limits (<2k at time). Chase took a chance on me big time by giving me $7000 line AND the lowest APR for the $300 sign up bonus. Score!
  • Too many inquiries! You applied for 10+ credit cards within one year, some approved, some denied, inquiries all over the place on your reports! Your scores are improving by the year mark, and now you're ready to score a rewards card. Woops! They denied you for too many inquiries! Guess it's back to swiping away that Walmart Discover :/

To close, I just want to note: YMMV. There are plenty of exceptions to the rules of building credit, and one method may not work as smoothly as another. Ultimately, you decide your own fate and how you'd like to approach things. Want to follow this checklist to a T? Great! Have some modifications based on the research you did? Fantastic! Prefer to follow your own path? No problem! This is merely a guide, or a reference, depending how you look at it. It is not the "end all, be all" of how to build credit!

 

In conclusion, I'd like to give a personal thank-you to all the members of this forum who work so hard to keeping the Credit Card forum active! I have learned much from all you "credit gurus", and you are all the inspiration for this post! From mods, to community leaders, to active posters, although I may not be able to thank you all by name, the obvious roots you have in this community is absolute proof of how important you are to everybody! Thank you myjourney, 09lexie, SSA_2013, youngandcreditwrthy, creditaddict, enharu, revelate, tinuviel, Ron1, and so many others that I cannot recall off the top of my head!

Capital One Quicksilver World Mastercard $10k | JCPenney Platinum $7.5k | Shell Drive for Five $800 | Chase Freedom Visa Signature $9.8k | TD Bank Easy Rewards Visa Signature $5k | Chase Sapphire Visa Signature $10k | American Express Blue Sky $25k | Discover IT $9.5k | SavingStar American Express $14.8k

FICOS: EX 744 EQ 718 TU 733 Credit Karma (TU) 785 Transrisk 809/990 Credit Sesame (EX) 766 Credit.com (EX) 764 VantageScore 3.0 719 Quizzle (EQ) 721
Valued Contributor
daybreakgonesXe
Posts: 1,864
Registered: ‎11-17-2012
0

Re: "Start From Scratch" Credit Builders Handbook

***MODS***

 

Many members of the forum have either recommended or taken much needed advice from this post I made in the garden club forum, and even have gone as far as to recommended it as a "stickied" thread. Is it possible to do this?

 

Feel free to make any edits/corrections you feel would be needed for this to be appropriate as a stickied thread. Through the course of the week I plan on editing it, providing more recommended credit cards and putting it into a checklist format.

 

Thank you :smileyhappy:

Capital One Quicksilver World Mastercard $10k | JCPenney Platinum $7.5k | Shell Drive for Five $800 | Chase Freedom Visa Signature $9.8k | TD Bank Easy Rewards Visa Signature $5k | Chase Sapphire Visa Signature $10k | American Express Blue Sky $25k | Discover IT $9.5k | SavingStar American Express $14.8k

FICOS: EX 744 EQ 718 TU 733 Credit Karma (TU) 785 Transrisk 809/990 Credit Sesame (EX) 766 Credit.com (EX) 764 VantageScore 3.0 719 Quizzle (EQ) 721
Moderator
09Lexie
Posts: 26,585
Registered: ‎09-13-2012
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Re: "Start From Scratch" Credit Builders Handbook

I have already requested this post to be stickied.

Excellent advice!
Community Leader
Senior Contributor
myjourney
Posts: 26,659
Registered: ‎02-07-2013
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Re: "Start From Scratch" Credit Builders Handbook

+2

Excellent advise

"Intelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education"
Last 5 apps 6/13


New Contributor
kstmommy
Posts: 101
Registered: ‎07-25-2013
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Re: "Start From Scratch" Credit Builders Handbook

Thank you! I will be printing this advice for my daughters, 17 and 19.

Contributor
sergi0wned
Posts: 90
Registered: ‎06-27-2013
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Re: "Start From Scratch" Credit Builders Handbook

As a 19 year old student who has been working to build credit, this is fantastic advice! This definitely deserves to be stickied, because it provides a good overview of the process as well as a realistic timetable in which goals can be fulfilled.

I would also recommend adding some information about credit monitoring services, such as Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, and Quizzle. Although the scores are FAKOs, they are valuable for credit monitoring and having a rough approximation of my FICO score helps me to see what affects my credit.

Also, to add some personal experiences that may be helpful for some:

 

1. My first card was a 1st Financial Bank USA Student Visa. They sent me a mailing shortly after I turned 18, and I decided to go for it. They're exactly what you'd expect from a predatory lender (29.9% APR), but if you are responsible and pay in full every month you can build credit just as good as you can with any card. They also fall all over themselves to give you high limits; I got a $1,000 auto-CLI at 6 months.

2. I got denied for the Capital One Journey for insufficient credit history when I applied for it. I had no student loans yet, no AU accounts, no car loans or anything, so I had absolutely no credit history. I think the denial may have had to do with having too low of an income ($6,000 reported, I believe), but it definitely stung since you get a HP with all 3 bureaus from Capital One.


I'm looking forward to seeing how you expand this!

20 years old | 4 Cards in my wallet | TU (3/28/14) 743
January 2013 - 1st Financial Bank USA Platinum VISA ($500 --> $1,500)
June 2013- Discover IT Student ($1,500 --> $1,800 --> $2,100), Citi Forward Student ($1,500 --> $2,900)
December 2013 - Macy's American Express ($1,000 --> $3,000)
February 2014 - American Express Blue Cash Everyday ($3,000), Chase Freedom ($2,000)
April 2014 - Sallie Mae MasterCard ($3,800)
Valued Contributor
daybreakgonesXe
Posts: 1,864
Registered: ‎11-17-2012
0

Re: "Start From Scratch" Credit Builders Handbook


sergi0wned wrote:

As a 19 year old student who has been working to build credit, this is fantastic advice! This definitely deserves to be stickied, because it provides a good overview of the process as well as a realistic timetable in which goals can be fulfilled.

I would also recommend adding some information about credit monitoring services, such as Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, and Quizzle. Although the scores are FAKOs, they are valuable for credit monitoring and having a rough approximation of my FICO score helps me to see what affects my credit.

Also, to add some personal experiences that may be helpful for some:

 

1. My first card was a 1st Financial Bank USA Student Visa. They sent me a mailing shortly after I turned 18, and I decided to go for it. They're exactly what you'd expect from a predatory lender (29.9% APR), but if you are responsible and pay in full every month you can build credit just as good as you can with any card. They also fall all over themselves to give you high limits; I got a $1,000 auto-CLI at 6 months.

2. I got denied for the Capital One Journey for insufficient credit history when I applied for it. I had no student loans yet, no AU accounts, no car loans or anything, so I had absolutely no credit history. I think the denial may have had to do with having too low of an income ($6,000 reported, I believe), but it definitely stung since you get a HP with all 3 bureaus from Capital One.


I'm looking forward to seeing how you expand this!


Thanks, sergi! Great idea about the credit monitoring...I'm surprised I didn't put this in in the first place, considering I tried to pull any free score and sign up for any free monitoring service when I turned 18!

 

I have CK, CS, credit.com, and Quizzle. Those are the top 4 free monitoring services, will definitely add that now and work on editing throughout the week!

 

Congrats on successfully building your credit at such a young age as well! :smileyvery-happy:

Capital One Quicksilver World Mastercard $10k | JCPenney Platinum $7.5k | Shell Drive for Five $800 | Chase Freedom Visa Signature $9.8k | TD Bank Easy Rewards Visa Signature $5k | Chase Sapphire Visa Signature $10k | American Express Blue Sky $25k | Discover IT $9.5k | SavingStar American Express $14.8k

FICOS: EX 744 EQ 718 TU 733 Credit Karma (TU) 785 Transrisk 809/990 Credit Sesame (EX) 766 Credit.com (EX) 764 VantageScore 3.0 719 Quizzle (EQ) 721
Contributor
sergi0wned
Posts: 90
Registered: ‎06-27-2013
0

Re: "Start From Scratch" Credit Builders Handbook


daybreakgonesXe wrote:

sergi0wned wrote:

As a 19 year old student who has been working to build credit, this is fantastic advice! This definitely deserves to be stickied, because it provides a good overview of the process as well as a realistic timetable in which goals can be fulfilled.

I would also recommend adding some information about credit monitoring services, such as Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, and Quizzle. Although the scores are FAKOs, they are valuable for credit monitoring and having a rough approximation of my FICO score helps me to see what affects my credit.

Also, to add some personal experiences that may be helpful for some:

 

1. My first card was a 1st Financial Bank USA Student Visa. They sent me a mailing shortly after I turned 18, and I decided to go for it. They're exactly what you'd expect from a predatory lender (29.9% APR), but if you are responsible and pay in full every month you can build credit just as good as you can with any card. They also fall all over themselves to give you high limits; I got a $1,000 auto-CLI at 6 months.

2. I got denied for the Capital One Journey for insufficient credit history when I applied for it. I had no student loans yet, no AU accounts, no car loans or anything, so I had absolutely no credit history. I think the denial may have had to do with having too low of an income ($6,000 reported, I believe), but it definitely stung since you get a HP with all 3 bureaus from Capital One.


I'm looking forward to seeing how you expand this!


Thanks, sergi! Great idea about the credit monitoring...I'm surprised I didn't put this in in the first place, considering I tried to pull any free score and sign up for any free monitoring service when I turned 18!

 

I have CK, CS, credit.com, and Quizzle. Those are the top 4 free monitoring services, will definitely add that now and work on editing throughout the week!

 

Congrats on successfully building your credit at such a young age as well! :smileyvery-happy:


Great edit! Nice thorough explanations of what they are and how to use them together. 

Let me know if you need any help editing stuff. I'm working on a similar guide for a seprate forum that I frequent, and there's definitely some overlap. I'd be happy to help if you want some, but for how solid this guide is it doesn't look like you need much :smileywink:

Thank you! I'm very fortunate that I found this forum and  put in the work when I did! :smileyvery-happy: 

20 years old | 4 Cards in my wallet | TU (3/28/14) 743
January 2013 - 1st Financial Bank USA Platinum VISA ($500 --> $1,500)
June 2013- Discover IT Student ($1,500 --> $1,800 --> $2,100), Citi Forward Student ($1,500 --> $2,900)
December 2013 - Macy's American Express ($1,000 --> $3,000)
February 2014 - American Express Blue Cash Everyday ($3,000), Chase Freedom ($2,000)
April 2014 - Sallie Mae MasterCard ($3,800)
New Contributor
xcallmeclayx
Posts: 71
Registered: ‎05-10-2012
0

Re: "Start From Scratch" Credit Builders Handbook

Solid Post!  This a great read


Starting Score 5/10/2012: EQ: 631 EX: 570 TU: 583
Current Score: EQ: 710 (MyFico) EX: 740 (CreditInform) TU: 709 (WalMart)
NEW Goal Score: 750 All Across 1st Goal: Achieved 6/7/2013 690 All Across


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Regular Contributor
tornadoguy
Posts: 222
Registered: ‎07-25-2013
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Re: "Start From Scratch" Credit Builders Handbook

As I have said elsewhere, a fantastic writeup that really deserves to be stickied.

In the new to the US section I would consider adding a line about establishing a bank relationship (this worked for a friend of mine who deposited a large amount (>10k) with a bank, and appears to have worked for me), something to the effect of:

- Try establishing a relationship with a local bank or credit union that you would like a card with. While not as instaneous as some of the options, if you open a checking account with one of the banks or a credit union and make a large deposit or regularly input your salary into it, it may assist in getting a card. The limit may be small, but its a foot in the door.

CK TU FAKO - 762, TU FICO - 781, EX Fako 734, EX FICO 764 - 3/29/2014
INQ: TU 4, EX 8, EQ 1 |
AMEX PRG (01/11), AMEX BCE (01/11): $2.5k, AMEX EDP (3/11): $6k Chase Freedom(07/13): $2k,
Barclay Arrival+ WMC (3/14): $6.3k, Barclays US Air MC (9/14): $2.5k, CSP (9/14): 12k

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