Hey all! Long time lurker, first time poster. I was hoping you guys could answer a few questions for me. I'm 23 years old making $85k/year, and am trying to develop a strategic plan for myself. My main goals are to develop and maintain a high credit score because I will be buying a new car in the next year or so. My credit score is somewhere from 760-785 according to TU and Equifax.
Chase Sapphire Preferred, $7000, opened 7/2012
Southwest Premier RR, $7400 opened 7/2012
Wells Fargo Platinum, $4000 opened 9/2008
I'm also an AU on an a couple of my parents' cards...Costco AMEX, US Airways, and a United card. (don't use them anymore). I'm not sure how much those factor into my score, but in the interest of full disclosure I figured I'd include them.
So obviously, I won't be applying for cards for a while given the fact that I just got the CSP and the SWP ones. I use the CSP for my everyday purchases, and got the SWP for the 50,000 point signup bonus. That being said, my next goal is to break into the AMEX market just to get a relationship started. I'm only 23 so besides food, entertainment, bills, and rent, I don't really purchase that much. Is there a particular card that I should pursue? Eventaully, I figure I'd want to work my way up the AMEX Platinum for the extrinsic benefits. So, my questions:
1. I'm assuming I'll be ditching my college car sometime next year, hopefully it can make it to December of '13. How long before that should I make sure I have no INQs on my account?
2. Would it be worth it for me to join a credit union, like PenFED? I hear they give good rates on cars, so would establsihing a relationship with them early on help me next year when I'm buying a car? Since I'm in the defense/intelligence field and live in the DC area, this seems like a natural fit.
3. Is my approach to developing credit correct? I'm trying not to get to many cards and stick to the ones that actually provide some value. If you guys have any advice on my plan, I'd really apprecaite it.
4. What do you guys use to keep track of your credit score? I bought my TU and Equifax before applying for the cards, but I see people being able to see updates immediately. How do you guys do this?
Sorry of the long post, thank you so much in advance!
...I'm also an AU on an a couple of my parents' cards...Costco AMEX, US Airways, and a United card. (don't use them anymore). I'm not sure how much those factor into my score, but in the interest of full disclosure I figured I'd include them....
I think being an AU on parents' cards usually don't factor in your FICO score unless the lenders actually report your information. Basically, if they don't report it, it won't be a significant factor (if at all) in determining your score.
First off, congrats on the double Chase approval! Great cards & great limits.
As far as which Amex to apply for I would recommend The Premier Rewards Gold card & either the blue cash preferred or everday(depending on how much you actually spend on groceries.) The gold gives you double points on gas & groceries (you mentioned having a car & food as part of your main expenses) triple points on flights & 1 pt on eveything else. First year fee of $175 is waived & they are currently offering 25,000 pt bonus although people on this forum have been getting targeted offers in the mail for 50,000 points. You have to soend $2000 within the first 3 months inorder to qualify for the bonus. After the first year you can PC to the green card $95.
The blue cash pref. Gives you 6% cash back on groceries & 3% on gas & dept sTores. $75 fee but they are offering a $150 bonus. The everday version is a no fee card but groceries earn 3% cash back, gas & dept stores earn 2%.
With your spending habits you might want to look into the Citi Forward which offers 5 points on restaurants, Amazon, book stores, movie theatres & music stores. Although I'm not sure you want to add yet another card to your portfolio. Also, Citi's point system is somewhat diluted and 5 points is equivalent to less than 5%.
Do you know which reports Chase pulled? Amex pulls Experian & if your inquiries are on the other reports you could apply for Amex soon assuming your Experian score is similar to your other scores & your util. Is low. (I was recently denied for the BCP with a 763 bc of high util. & 3 inquiries.)
Are you able to join NFCU? in my opinion it is a better Credit union than Penfed as far as overall experiences with them. Penfed has better credit cards but I personally dont think you dont need another credit card. you have 3 good ones all prime imo, but i think you should get your foot in the door with AMex. If you eventually want a platinum I suggest getting a PRG. AF is waived so you wont have to worry about that for 12 months. Like i said though, NFCU is awesome.
Are those credit scores FICOs? If so, that's great. If not, atleast pull an EQ FICO to get a "real" credit score. I'd think 6 months prior to the auto loan inquiry free would be good, so you'd want to keep that in mind when deciding when to apply for an Amex. It sounds like you want a charge card, and if you wanted to go for the Platinum right away I'd think you stand a good chance of approval (assuming you posted FICOs). Of course, you could go for the Green or PR Gold and then upgrade after 1 year (minimum 12 months to upgrade due to some new law). You could possibly get some bonus points and the first year free to tryout the Amex charge card to see if it's right for you.