Yesterday, I got approved for the Blue Cash Everyday American Express credit card. I share this because it has been a struggle and a grind to get to this point, but I feel accomplished.
I had my credit severely damaged years back due to student loans charging off. This was around 2010 or so. I owed about $21k and I had no steady job, so I had to let the loans charge off. When they did, I dropped to about a 590 FICO. I only had a JCPenney card, an Express CC (which closed due to non-use), and a Bank of America Student Credit Card (which I still have to this day).
I settled with a collection agency about a year later for $11k.
As I mentioned, I had and still have that BofA CC that I've had since I was 18. The limit is $3,400, though that just bumped up this year (it used to be $1,500). I also had and still have a JCPenney card with a $400 limit.
After the charge off/settlement, I felt like my future was ruined. I thought I'd never be able to get a good credit standing back, yet I was determined to do something to fix my situation. I immediately went and got a secured card from CapitalOne for $500 because I knew no bank would give me a CC with a sub-600 FICO. (I eventually bumped it up to $1,500 of my own money, and they gave me $700 unsecured on it.)
I used those two cards (BofA/CO) diligently and tried to carry a balance below 30% utilization. This is the key. I did not see any improvement until I got my utilization to hover between 5-30%.
After maintaining that for a good while, I was finally approved for a second CapitalOne (unsecured) card last year with a $5,000 limit, which was huge. I really couldn't believe it. CapOne may not get the best rep, but at least they are willing to help you even if you're not a millionaire with 780+ FICO like some other banks and companies.
And yesterday... I was looking around on CreditKarma and saw the review for the AmEx Blue Cash Everyday card. I saw a lot of reviewers mentioning EQ/TU scores right around my score, and I felt good, so through CreditKarma's "Very Good Odds" recommendation, I applied for it.
I got an error message upon submitting and my heart sank.
Then I realized that I got the error most likely since I just moved to my new home. My address hasn't updated with the bureaus yet, so I got filled with a little hope and decided to call in.
After answering some token questions, the guy on the line goes, "sir is this your first card with AmEx?" I responded "yes." He goes, "well, I do want to warn you that since we don't have any history with you, the limit will likely be something like $1,000-$2,000 just as a nominal line to get you started."
I said I was ok with that, as long as I got approved, and asked if he could go verify my limit.
He does so, and about 30 seconds later he comes back and goes "sir, I must apologize. This is one of the best files I've seen all day and I take back what I said. You have a terrific file. I'm happy to let you know that you were approved for $10k. I will expedite the card for you since we made you call in and take time from your day."
I was and honestly still am in shock. It might not be much.... but after feeling hopeless at 590, and working hard for the last 5 years, I am now at 706 FICO (758 EQ/TU according to CK) and just got a card with a $10K limit, double my (now) second largest card.
My hope is that one day, all of you with challenged or damaged credit can make the climb back up as I did (with a long way to go still). It's an amazing feeling to know I've made progress and have made the climb back up to this point. Now the goal is to continue keeping my utilization ratio below 20% and building this thing even higher. My other cards currently have a zero balance.
As an aside, I also got approved for the amazon store card at $1,400. It's a lower limit than I was expecting, but eh, I'll take it. The promotional financing for purchases over certain quantities makes it attractive to my wife and I, but I digress... Wondering if I should go apply for anything else right now to try to nab something else around $10-15k. Thoughts?
If you have challenged credit, don't lose hope. Get a secured card or two (I recommend CapOne and WF, as WF will "graduate" you to an unsecured card generally within 6-18 months depending on your performance). Manage those cards wisely, and don't lose hope. You can and you will make it back.
Cheers, everyone. Feel free to ask any questions! I'm here to provide support and advice to anyone else who has had their credit damaged or otherwise challenged.
EDIT: Just for fun, I went to JCPenney's site and asked for $7,500 and got $5,000 though my limit was $338 and I hadn't used it since 2014. I'll take it! Great week so far!
EDIT2: I called Amazon / Synchrony and asked for a CLI (remember, just got this card yesterday), and they bumped me from $1,400 to $5,000. Score!
EDIT3: I went on to the CapitalOne app and requested an increase on my $5ker. They bumped it up to $8k. This week keeps on giving!
Total tally for the week:
New American Express Blue Cash Everyday (+$10,000)
New Amazon Store Card (+$1,400 SL) + ($3,600 2nd day through C/S Phone) = $5,000)
CLI at JCPenney $338 -> $5,000 ($+4,662)
CLI at CapitalOne $5,000 -> $8,000 (+$3,000)
Total net increase of $22,662 in trade lines this week!
Now I'm thinking if I should push BofA, though I don't want the HP. I also have a Sec. CapOne that I could probably try to convert to something else. Anyone ever had a Secured CapOne card converted while keeping AoA?
This just goes to show with a little effort, learning about credit and time will heal the wounds of a broken credit report. It's a long struggle mentally to climb back up the mountain and get to the peak to see the great view again. Take a minute to check out the 3X CLI guide which is posted in the link in my signature as you had earlier asked in another thread about 3X. Some key dates to put on the calendar are 61 days for the first CLI attempt unless you want to roll the dice at activation for 30K and then 6 months until a subsequent CLI attempt.
CONGRATS on the hard work and getting a foot in the door with AMEX it's quite the hurdle to achieve as over the last 10 years I had several attempts and finally got in 7/2015. I know how it feels to reclaim that spot on top of the mountain and don't take it for granted at all.
Congratulations on your approval and a very nice, motivational story. This time 12/15 last year I was approved for my BCE with the same sl and score very close to yours. It was my first Amex card also and I was shocked by the instant approval and limit, LOL.
My wife was able to double her limit on activation and I asked for and received a 9k cli on activation. I don't know if it's the holiday season or what with them but they've treated my well so far. Yesterday, I was able to transfer some of the limit from my BCE to my 5 months old BCP in less than 13 months.
I'm thinking they are generous this time of year or trying to regain so of the lost Costco revenue or a combo of both. Again congratulations on your approval and thanks for the feel good story/journey.
Thank you for the kind words. It wasn't easy, and I certainly could have been more efficient in the early going, but boy does it feel incredible. I was always frustrated with myself for allowing my credit to get so thrashed, but now I feel like I'm on top of the world.
I'll certainly be checking out that 3x CLI when the time comes!
Also, I updated the OP with some more successes for the week. Feeling good!
Oiringal Post has been updated with my approvals and CLIs for the week.
The holiday season is looking great!
If you have challenged credit, do not despair. Follow the advice given on this board. You will make it back to the top!
Major Congrats!!! Feels good don't it? Keep up the good work!
Congratulations! That is a wonderful CL and an even more amazing and uplifting story!! Although we have totally different profiles (BK7) for me, you give me hope that one day I can get in with AmEx!
Congrats on all of your great progress!
Congratulations to you! I loved reading your story. I am going through a very similar climb back up to the mountain top so it's always good to see stories about people who have made it.