[Part 1 of 2]
This is more about my overall credit journey than a single approval, so I will start at the beginning of my credit life when I had one credit card - I think only about a $300 credit line - in my late teens/early 20s (can't remember exactly when) that I was stupid with and maxed out and didn't make my monthly payments on time. I can't even really remember what happened to it, other than I did pay it off eventually. I did also get a loan for a vehicle and made a lot of the payments, but again was rather irresponsible/disrespectful and my mom made some of the payments for me as she had co-signed. I decided credit wasn't for me after that.
That was the mid-90s and I made it into the mid-2010s without much need of credit. There was another car loan in 2007, but it was through my dad so didn't help with my file. I did pay it off 10 months early, zero missed payments. I had matured a bit.
Then in summer 2016 that vehicle was done with. I live alone and there isn't great public transportation between home and work, so needed a new vehicle. Walked to a dealership by work and talked to a salesman. At that time I don't think I even had a credit score, or if I did it must have been the absolute minimum. No charge offs or BKs or anything, I think literally the only thing on my report was an inquiry or two, as I'd been curious the past few years and would apply for something occasionally, always getting declined. Thankfully I did get the (terrible) car loan and had a vehicle that worked.
It was tempting to immediately try for some cards, but I held off to wait for my scores to build. I started keeping track of them, only through NerdWallet/Credit Karma but they at least gave me a general idea of which direction my scores were heading.
Finally in late December 2018 I just decided one night to apply for a card. The many inquires from the car shopping had fallen off a few months prior, and all my report showed was 2+ years of on time payments on my loan. I think I again used Credit Karma which told me I had an excellent chance and/or was pre-approved for a Discover Miles card. Filled out the form, got really nervous, finally submitted and was approved with a $1500 limit! I should mention that my income isn't great, below $30k. A bit bummed as I'd searched a bit and saw people getting approved for their first card with $5000+ but I'm sure most have much higher income than I do.
I don't travel much but I have been wanting to go see some family out west for a long while, so figured the Miles card would help with that. Started putting as much spending as I could through it, at least without getting into MS territory, and paying it off in full every few days. That went well until I ended up having to loan a friend some money to get out of an abusive living situation. It was all the money I was about to use to pay what I owed on the card plus pretty much all my savings, but it was worth it. I had zero interest for 15 months, so no big deal, I could pay it off once I got the money back from my friend.
Things didn't quite go as planned. My friend that I helped couldn't pay me back all at once, just a bit here and there, some other expenses came up and I had started nearing my limit and ended up getting in a cycle of having some cash but needing to spend it on groceries on a Friday, as I had no food, no room on the card and couldn't wait for the payment to post to make room, so would spend the cash and not be able to put much beyond the minimum toward my balance. I did get an auto CLI of $400 at about 6 months, which helped, but couldn't make a real dent.
So in December 2019 I decided to try my luck again, this time for a balance transfer card since the end of the 0% interest on the Discover was fast approaching. I think it was Credit Karma again, checked the card suggestions for BT cards with an excellent approval chance/pre-approval. I know it isn't thought of real great around here, but it has been accurate for me. I must have noticed that another card had excellent chances/pre-approval, too, and was feeling a bit cocky as I ended up applying for two cards at pretty much the same time, literally within seconds as I had both apps filled out. I know, probably not the best idea! First up was the Chase Freedom Unlimited, and got approved with a $2500 limit! Next was the Capital One Platinum and got approved, too, but only with a $300 limit, with the stipulation that after five on time payments it would increase to $500. Lame.
The Chase also got me more rewards I could use on travel, so made sure to hit that goal. Tried to use the Cap One a lot as I read that frequent usage could lead to a bigger increase after 5 months, but I don't spend all that much and with having to hit the Chase goal in a limited time I wasn't able to put much on at first. And then the pandemic and a lockdown where I live so just wasn't able to use it that much. Did pay the Cap One every few days, and put as much as I could toward the Chase, well more than the minimum most of the time.
[Part 2 of 2]
In March I did get another auto CLI from Discover, this time for $300 to bring me to $2200. Then the Cap One increase last month, but only to the $500. Lame again. Just not enough spending I guess.
So that finally brings me to almost current. A bit over a week ago I was in Credit Karma again and it told me I was pre-approved for the Citi Double Cash. I wasn't planning on applying for anything right now but my credit scores were up to around 715 and I'm always on the lookout now, as I want to get as many cards as I can in a short time frame and then let them age to help my scores.
So I applied for that and got approved! Only a $1600 limit, though. Not terrible but I'm geting a big head! No sign up bonus, other than the option to do a 0% balance transfer from another card. Have like three months to do it, which could be useful. I also recently got an offer from Discover for basically the same thing.
Then, curiosity got the better of me and I looked at the CK card suggestion thing again and it said I had an excellent chance at the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bold. Again, I don't travel much, but might as well, right...? I was nervous about this one. I know Chase can be strict, espcially now. I do have an account with them with a decent balance, but I've also still got the Freedom Unlimited with over $1k on it. (For the record I could pay it off fully but given the state of the world I would rather have savings right now, and the FU is still zero interest until early next year.) I sat there for a bit, debating with myself if I should apply. I finally decided to go for it and submitted it. After a few seconds of being sure I was declined it came back and I was approved, and for $6400! I nearly leaped off my couch! Almost double my total credit limit, including the Citi I had just been approved for a few minutes before. Put me at $13.2k total credit, which I still can't wrap my head around. I know that's nothing for some people, but considering where I was less than four years ago and my income I am thrilled.
It was at that point that I finally decided to join these forums. I have seen them over the years, but I realized I was basically using a buckshot approach to applying for cards and that's not really a great way to go about it, so figured I should get serious about reading up on cards and what I should be aiming for and all that.
A bit sadly, that's not quite to the current day. A few days after my second double approval I was on lunch at work and was reading about the Blue Cash Preferred card. It sounded interesting but I didn't like the annual fee. I did read on here though that the way to do it is to apply for the Blue Cash Everyday, get the bonus from that, then after a year they may offer you an upgrade to the Preferred with another bonus. Seemed the perfect way to do it and if at that point the BCP doesn't seem worth it I can just not do it, so went to the Amex site to check for pre-approvals. I have been doing that a bit lately but nothing great was coming up, and I know no Blue Cash cards came up as I don't think I'd even heard of it until that day. I don't know if it was just pure chance or being tracked by Google (probably being tracked) but I got a pre-approval for the BCE! And with a fantastic deal, basically $350 back after spending $2k (with half having to be on Amazon) over a very generous six months. Super easy to do, especially with the new Xbox and PlayStation coming out soon that I will be buying. And it was 0% interest for 15 or 18 months, too.
I really didn't want to apply given four cards since last December but there was a message saying that offer might not be available if I leave the page. I'm sure I could probably get it back, it's just a tactic to get to suckers like me, but after much agonizing I did apply for it. And got my first decline since I started to build things up. I'm bummed, and considering calling to see if I can explain things to their satisfaction, but it may be best to just leave things be for now. I've had a lot of great success recently, can't be too greedy!
"Citi Double Cash - Jul '20 - $1,600 | Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bold - Jul '20 - $6,400
Congratulations on your Approvals..
Thanks for the story, and you've made great progress - congrats!
I think the ideal (for me) is that I only ever apply for credit when I decide to do so - independent of any "approval odds" or "curiosity getting the better of me" or "the offer might go away" type of temptations - with exceptions of perhaps some extraordinary deals or pre-qualify offers. It's an ideal, perhaps not always achieveable, but a goal.
A denial can make the best of us a bit sad, sure, but it can also be interpreted as an indicator that it's time to stop. If you let your new accounts age a year, the world will be your credit oyster.
Congratulations on your Citi and Chase approvals!