Hey everyone! This is my first post here, but I've been a long-time lurker. So to begin with, thanks for all of your shared insights; after learning so much from your stories over the last year, I applied for and was instantly approved this morning (while on the toilet, I kid you not) for the Amex EveryDay card with a SL of $1,000! I wanted to share my own approval story in the hope that someone might benefit from it the same way I have from yours. (Fair warning: overly long post to come.)
So I've been rebuilding since August 2014, when I defaulted on 5 of my private student loans totaling north of $92,000, which Wells Fargo is now servicing. My most recently purchased 3-bureau report from this site, in March 2016, shows EQ, TU, and EX scores of 626, 662, 642, up from 612, 610, and 608 respectively from August 2015. But even with these numerically average scores, I've experienced immense hurdles obtaining any kind of a loan. Without fail, my denial letters would cite my chargeoffs as a reason for the lenders' decisions. Understandably so. And then I also have a $29,000 Chase private student loan that, though in good standing, adds to my total credit obligation. Not good.
Reflecting my poor credit shape is the fact that since August 2014, I've only been able to secure an auto loan through Credit Acceptance (Mar. 015), and at a seriously usurious interest rate. Thankfully, before plummeting to this nadir, I had acquired a number of non-subprime cards with respectable APR terms (none topping 13%) and credit limits, which consisted of a Capital One Platinum MasterCard, CL: $10,000; a Chase Amazon Visa Rewards, CL: $4,200; and a Wells Fargo Platinum Rewards card, CL: $2,600; as well as a smattering of $100 - $120, mostly automatically closed store cards through the years, all issued by Synchrony bank. Of the bunch, Amazon was the most generous, providing a $1,500 CL at its peak. So I have cards to build on at the very least, and am not starting from a completely un-bootstrappable stage.
Even so, it's been really hard not to feel like my rebuilding efforts were Sisyphean at best, since my meagre income combined with monthly student loan payments in excess of $750 often often drive me to put an expense here and there on my existing cards, so much that at one point I was staring at utilization rates greater than 90% for my Cap1 card and 100% for my WF and Chase cards (all at the same time!). But after the birth of my first (and only) child last year, I resolved to really rebuild my credit, starting with the clearly achievable: reducing my high revolving balances. I also sought to increase my total credit limit as much as possible so that I could decrease my overall utilization ratio. Comenity stores were instrumental here, since I easily obtained $500 SLs with Express & VS, and $650 SL with Overstock, all without a hard inquiry, via the shopping cart trick. After 13 months, my most recently reported utilization rates for my Cap1 Platinum MasterCard and Chase Amazon Rewards, and Wells Fargo Platinum Rewards Visa cards are at 83%, 57%, and 3%, respectively, and all store charge cards at 0%. (Overall utilization across all cards is 59%.) Still not where they should be ideally, but much better than before.
Having worked so hard so long, I've been itching to apply for a prime-ish card for months, even as I believed deep down that these positive trends were likely to be counterbalanced by my COs, given the huge sum (over 3X my annual income) they represent, and the fact that they haven't really aged much yet, being less than 2 years old each. This notion was corroborated by Alliant CU's denial Tuesday afternoon of my auto refinancing app. But after rebuilding my FICO scores up to those March levels, I held out hope that I had a decent shot of at least getting approved for Walmart's Synchrony card, a starter charge card for which I was fully ready to accept a cruddy SL so that I can make additional inroads.
Now, I knew Synchrony probably considered me a bottom-rung borrower: over the last year, they've lowered my $1,500 SL with Amazon like clockwork in response to my gradually declining TU scores to its current $100 limit and denied all of my subsequent requests for a CLI even though I have only one 30-day late from 2014 and use it very frequently. I suppose I hinged my hopes on Walmart perhaps having very different UW'ing criteria from Amazon, and justified incurring yet another potentially unrequited hard inquiry as providing direction on my deciding whether to submit the Amex EveryDay app.
To my dismay, what I got instead was a "verification needed" message, which told me to call a 1-800 number and speak with a representative. I called right away, but after the rep. made me go through some basic identity verifying steps, including reading back to her a code texted to my cell, she announced meekly that she needed to forward my application to a specialist for additional review, followed by the dreaded "You will receive your decision in 7-10 days" line. I hung up right away and didn't even think about a recon.
So I don't know what exactly I was thinking when I decided to apply for Amex's EveryDay card this morning. I guess I felt so utterly eviscerated after Walmart's denial, which I had targeted as a gateway card to either the Amex or Chase Freedom, which I've long considered dream cards, that I essentially thought screw it. What's one more inquiry going to hurt, since I can't even get approved for a sorry Walmart Synchrony card, or even obtain a $50 CLI on my existing Synchrony account with Amazon?
I did have two things working in my favor, though. After spending months monitoring my Amex online pre-approval status, all of which returned negative, I finally got a pre-qualified offer message for two cards a few weeks ago. First, it was for the EveryDay and Green cards. I refrained from applying, though, since I hadn't gotten anything in the mail, and many with far better credit profiles than me have been denied for that card despite seeing the same message. In the last few days however those offers have changed to the EveryDay and Blue Cash flavors. Another thing I found out later through a Credit Karma iPhone app alert, AFTER I had submitted my app, which in retrospect I surmise probably worked in my favor, was that 5 out of the 6 hards on my TU report were dropped this morning. At any rate, I did the app, wished really hard, and now I'm $1,000 more creditable! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe American Express, of all lenders, would approve an application from me.
Sorry about the really long post. As you can tell, I am so very excited, encouraged, and (oh no!) embolded by this unexpected approval. I thought for sure after the WM denial that I had just shot whatever miniscule chance I had of getting a prime-ish card by getting another hard inquiry. Now I'm wondering--and feel free to stop me here--if I should apply for the Chase Freedom card, since they target people with similar credit score ranges.
Congratulations on AmEx! Did you have many inquiries?
Congrats on the Amex ED!!!
It's been noted that once you have a relationship with Chase you may have a better chance of approval for another card with them. But Chase is known to sometimes double pull when you're considered borderline so you could run the risk of 2 HP's if you do decide to app with them. Just something to consider.
Good luck if you do decide to go for it!
|Total CL: $321.7k||UTL: 2%||AAoA: 7.0yrs||Baddies: 0||Other: Lease, Loan, *No Mortgage, All Inq's from Jun '20 Car Shopping|
Thanks blunderer! I'm still in shock. I don't think I've seen anyone else get approved with as many recent and as much total owed in student loan charge-offs for an unsecured card in the Amex EveryDay class of prime cards, and certainly not for $1,000. I wonder if Amex is temporarily lowering their approval standards to mitigate the expected financial fallout from their soon-to-be expired business relationship with Costco.