Note: Long and windy post, TL;DR under.
Context: I've been a longtime lurker of these forums, have a few older friends & my family who introduced me and taught me how important having good credit is. I recently turned 18 and I decided to start my credit journey. I'm only doing this to build my credit, anticipating needing to rent and whatnot in the future. I'm an international student but I have an SSN and have relatives in the US. I'm an AU on a few of my family member's cards (Chase and AMEX) although it was not reporting when I submitted some of my applications. I know because I have tried to pull my credit report and the system is throwing errors due to no report/history being generated. I haven't had any previous accounts/student loans. My stated income is <20k (personal, including regular expected allowance).
I have a savings account with PenFed so I opened a Share Secured Loan for a 9-year term (I don't foresee having any installment loans in the future so I suppose this is good for credit mix). I believe I can make payments to advance the due date (I managed to advance it by one month by making an initial monthly payment) but I'm not sure if it will reset when it goes sufficiently into the future.
In retrospect, I might have gone a bit excessive on the applications considering I have a thin history but here are my applications (in order):
Discover it Student Cash Back, 1000 SL
I knew that Discover is good with new files and students so I decided to fill out a pre-qualification form. It pre-qualified me for both student cards. The application was simple and I had to upload a few files for verification. I also called in and they had to call me back to verify my phone number. Approved over the phone and later reflected online.
Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students, denied for insufficient history but counteroffer for fully secured
I bank with BoA and my banker (as well as following the consensus of the internet) told me over the phone that I could give the student card a shot, and it would usually counter with a secured card with rewards. I had some error with my application and called, resulted in a total of 2 hard pulls (oh well). I'm not sure if I'll accept the counteroffer given my other successes.
Citi Secured, 400 SL
Capital One Secured, 200 SL
I had still wanted to build a good base and hopefully thicken my payment history so I went for two secured cards. I was under the impression that the Capital One was still graduating but I think they have since changed their terms. I'm fine with Citi graduating in 18 months. Given that the CapOne is partially secured with CLI's in the future, I might keep it open for a while, and then I'll close it out.
AMEX Cash Magnet, 1000 SL
I have an online account with AMEX since I'm an AU, but it never seemed to report anywhere (I think it was waiting until I turned 18). I was having no luck with pre-qualified offers for a while. Just recently, it was able to prequalify me (probably based off of some AU account, not AMEX) for the Cash Magnet, Hilton Aspire, and Delta Gold. I usually fly AA (have status) and don't stay Hilton so I decided to go with the Cash Magnet. This was also considering I could potentially switch to the BCE or Preferred some time in the future when it makes sense, and I wanted a card I could keep for a long time without an annual fee. I was approved and got my card number instantly online. It was also added to my profile. From the portal, I'm seeing an EX FICO8 in the 710s. The APR is the worst one (I believe) with 15-month 0% but I don't plan on keeping any balances.
I know that this is a lot and is really excessive, so I'm going to hunker down and garden for a long time after this for my pulls to drop off and accounts to age. I'm at 4/24 so maybe after a year or two, I'll have a shot at Chase. My spend isn't nearly enough for me to start caring about the actual cashback/rewards so I'm solely doing this to start off and have a thick padding to my file for the future. The first thing I did with all my accounts is to link my checking account on autopay to pay off the full balance every statement (I would have used debitize if it was still around). I'm only going to use them as I would my debit card for my daily expenses/purchases (I don't spend much, it would be <5% util). I might put a small recurring charge on the secured cards just to keep them active. I foresee being able to meet the signup bonus with my normal spend on the AMEX given it's now extended for 6 months and I only need to hit $1000 (for $150 back). Once school starts next semester I'll need to buy supplies and whatnot as well. When my CL increases I might consider paying for my airfare (~2-4 long-distance round trips annually) too.
Not credit-related but I've also opened a brokerage account and put a comfortable amount of my savings into long-term ETFs for hopefully when the economy rebounds. I'm really fortunate to have a history and parents who have hammered good money habits into me for a long time.
Right now, one of the Chase AU's is reporting but at a very high balance (this is their day-to-day card, >8k/15k limit) so I'll call to request for it to be removed after a while. It does go back 6 years so I might have to find a good time to do that so it won't tank my history. I'm really grateful for the forum for the information and knowledge y'all provide so thanks to you all! Sorry if you made it through that huge post, I really wanted to share and thanks for reading.
TL;DR International student; some AUs that aren't reporting; just turned 18. Opened SSL with PenFed, Discover it Student 1k SL, AMEX Cash Magnet 1k SL, & Citi and CapOne Secured cards. Will garden for a long time; good start to credit journey.
i would take the BoA secured because you already suffered the HP for it anyway
then close the Cap1 and get your $ back
Congratulations on your approvals! Those are some great cards to start with. I also agree that you should accept the BofA card. It should unsecure in a few months and will grow with SP CLIs.
Congrats on your approval.
Adding another agree on BofA. Cap One doesn't graduate.
Congrats on your approvals! Great start to your credit journey!