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AZEO Works but It Can Be Harmful – Be Careful for Gotchas

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Regular Contributor

AZEO Works but It Can Be Harmful – Be Careful for Gotchas

     I, for one, completely believe in the AZEO method. I have used it in many ways and even experimented with it the last year plus by going to AZ, multiple cards with balances (even though keeping individual and total card utilization below 8.99%), total and card utilization below 3%, letting utilization go above certain bucket limits to see the effect, and even closing cards that do not affect my AAoA or AoYA.

 

     The system works perfectly, and I can give my personal results; BUT, in my experiments I have discovered several things that were not obvious to me at different times during my journey. I have called these my “Gotchas” – especially for those of us with multiple cards (I have 8 not including AMEX Platinum for my traveling and cruising benefits).  

 

     My file is thick and fairly constant (changes made by me for experimental purposes). The only uncontrollable factors are AAoA (the next bucket is a long way away) and the ad hoc inquiry that I put on or pop down semi-annually. No, I don’t put inquiries on to apply for new credit, I use them for knowledge purposes to verify data I “think” should happen (thus my AoYA and AAoA does not change from the inquiry – no new credit or account is activated). Nevertheless, you can see from my signature that my scores do go up and down regularly (not just FICO 8 Classic but all scores relatively equally). Sometimes it is greater than expected and that is part of my “Gotchas”.

 

     We all know that AZEO is a wonderful method to use for the neophyte, especially if they need a large score boost over a relatively short period of time. Assuming a member has the finances, cutting that total and individual utilization down can see a large score boost in just a few months (2 or 3 if they have the cash to do it quickly). But it can also be a Gotcha.

 

     Proper card utilization is a topic not often discussed on the forums. Yes, we have all responded when a member states that their CL was decreased or their account close for inactivity (we know it subconsciously). Yet we don’t really educate the new members on how to properly rotate their cards while using the AZEO method. Often they will still take a score hit.

 

     Statement and CRA reporting dates are usually close (not to be confused with billing and statement dates); but not always equal. How does the member rotate the EO card when the reporting date does not correlate with the previous month’s EO card’s date – GOTCHA.

 

     Let me explain. You have Card A as your EO card that has a reporting date of the 15th on the month. It reports 8% utilization. Then you know you have not used Card E in over 6 months so you plan that for your next month’s EO card. It has a reporting date of the 2nd of the month. On the 20th you pay off Card A (already reported) and on the 30th you make an 8% charge to Card E. Card E will be your EO card for the next month; however, what happened between the 2nd and the 15th of the new month? Well, on the 15th of the previous month you had a report of 8% utilization and on the 2nd of the new month you had another 8% utilization. Card A will not show zero again (in most cases) until the 15th of the new month; so fundamentally, you have two cards reporting 8% and that can pop your total utilization into the next bucket and you got FICO hit – Gotcha.

 

     This next Gotcha actually got me unintentionally. I had a brain dump one month (I modified my Excel spreadsheet accordingly to present the problem if my numbers triggered this mess). Now, I always keep my total utilization below 1% and any individual card below 3%; however, it was not always like that (it was one of my experiments later after this issue). They would never be above 8%, but in those days, I played loose and swift with the percentages around 8% (not any more).

 

     This gotcha came about because I didn’t always look at individual credit card limits (I have a great memory, it’s just short). For years I was never close to limits, so on many cards I would forget what the actual limit was. One particular month, to my horror, I notice I had not used a particular card in over a year. Usually, I will use a card every 3-5 months even though it may not be my EO card; but in this case I didn’t. It was a nice old aged card and while it gave me no cash back or other benefits, it also did not cost me an annual fee – I still have it today.

 

     So I went down and charged the needed repairs I had for my car that month, on that old card. The cost was only a few hundred bucks and I THOUGHT my limits on all my cards were in the $8k to $25K range. I was wrong for I forgot this card’s CL. This old card (which I never asked for a CL increase) still had a mere $3,700 CL ($1,200 automatically added back in the early 2000s). My charge was $397.18 or 10.7% card utilization – Gotcha!

 

     There are so many more incidents that I could write another doctoral dissertation using personal experience as verification. However, my desire is to simply state the obvious to the observant. AZEO works wonderfully, but as operators of the machinery, we must be cautious because it can be dangerous.

 

Y

Current FICO 8 Scores:
EQ 792 (12/24/19), TU 819 (12/23/19), EX 824 (12/23/19)
EQ 788 (11/22/19), TU 817 (11/22/19), EX 828 (11/23/19)
EQ 772 (10/29/19), TU 799 (10/29/19), EX 808 (10.29/19)
Message 1 of 18
17 REPLIES 17
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Super Contributor

Re: AZEO Works but It Can Be Harmful – Be Careful for Gotchas

You say that the next AAoA bucket is a long way away.  How do you know?  I don't believe that AAoA thresholds are well-documented on this forum, but if you know where they reside it would definitely be cool to hear.

 

Regarding AZEO, it's really only a method needed when an important app is approaching and you're looking to maximize scores.  It definitely isn't something that needs to be done all the time.  That being said, if one is naturally using their CCs as they would, there's no need to "rotate" cards or "rotate" an AZEO card.  The time comes when you know an app is going to happen relatively soon, so you start taking all of your reported balances down to $0 except whichever one (major bank card, non-AU card, non-monster limit card) you decide you want to leave a small reported balance on.

 

It sounds like you tend to operate with the implementation of AZEO at all times, so your post is more tuned to those that fall into that category.  I'm not sure many people live by AZEO at all times, though.  I go through stretches where I do, but it's for the same reason as you where I'm doing some score-related testing. 

Message 2 of 18
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Regular Contributor

Re: AZEO Works but It Can Be Harmful – Be Careful for Gotchas

     BBS as usual you are right on the money. You are correct in that I do use AZEO all the time. I use to be a cash buyer up to the very late 90s and early 00s; using CCs for Hertz and hotel rooms (paying in cash at check-out.) Until the events of 9/11 (and the advent of the USA’s Homeland Security Department) I used to buy my airplane tickets with cash. That was my world.

 

     I respect your knowledge immensely (I quote you profusely) but in this aspect we are two different fish in the same ocean. You eat sharks, I eat minnows; however, I was born just after WW2 and grew up in the 50s and 60s (went to Nam in ‘71). Anyone that used credit back then was considered a “poor person” needing assistance from the neighbors. If they used it more than once or twice they were a “deadbeat” and ostracized by the community. That’s my world and while I know it has changed, when I find something that makes sense and works (AZEO) I don’t try to fix it since it ain’t broke.

 

     I’ve been married for nearly 40 years – heck I was born married to my wife. My bride cannot for the life of her understand why I have so many CCs and such high CL. There is no way on this earth that we could ever consider using 20% of my CL, not alone use CCs as a means of paying for something we did not absolutely need for life or death purposes. In my old world, we saved years to buy a house, car, or color TV. There was no such thing as paying on credit for a new refrigerator; you just cut your expenses and bit the bullet for months (maybe years) and bought it for cash.

 

     No, we were not Jed and Granny Clampet, nor were we Bill and Malinda Gates. I grew up on the Jersey shore (outside of NYC) and had the Ward and June Cleaver lifestyle. Dad worked, mom cooked, older sister pestered me as the youngest in the family. But none of them would understand this credit stuff today (my parents and sister are dead).

 

     In 1976 I got my DD-214s and was discharged from the hospital (I was shot down in Nam). I took my combat pay and DD money and paid cash for my first house (a 2/2 900 sq. ft.). Three years later I got married, upgraded and did not need a mortgage because of the increase in real estate prices. Fast forward to 2010. I owned homes all my life, bought cars, furniture and went on cruises, but I never had a mortgage, car loan, personal loan or credit card bill. In fact, except for a 1978 AMEX card, I didn’t even have a CC. I finally wanted to buy my dream car – a 2012 Mercedes-Benz S550 twin-turbo (not the S560 4.0-liter V-8 I have now). Unfortunately, it would take me a few years to pay the $200K for my baby at that time, so I decided to use credit for the first time in my life. Alas, I wound up on this forum and haven’t left.

 

     I was a credit ghost. Even though I bought and sold several homes over 38 years then, bought a new car every 5 – 10 years (depending on whether it was a lemon or not), traveled the world and was a Diamond Plus member of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines; I could not qualify for a pack of matches, let alone my Benz. The fact that I had 50% cash to put into the deal meant nothing because I had no scores – SCORES WHAT SCORES?

 

     So BBS as with most of us, we learn. You are right, I don’t know when my next AAoA bucket will hit, but from the data I have scoured it seems to be around 8 years (2020 for me). I’ve resigned myself like I did back in 2012 that time is the healer of all. I have learned a lot on the forum and gained much. I cannot do more and while I will never tell members when a bucket will hit (I’ll leave that to TT), I will express that which I have experienced.

 

     Thanks my friend; for you (among many) have educated me to be where I am. Old dogs can learn new tricks. Cash use to be king, now it’s credit.

 

Y

Current FICO 8 Scores:
EQ 792 (12/24/19), TU 819 (12/23/19), EX 824 (12/23/19)
EQ 788 (11/22/19), TU 817 (11/22/19), EX 828 (11/23/19)
EQ 772 (10/29/19), TU 799 (10/29/19), EX 808 (10.29/19)
Message 3 of 18
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Established Contributor

Re: AZEO Works but It Can Be Harmful – Be Careful for Gotchas

Thanks for the story, it was well worth reading.

Goal: 700's by 11/1/2015 (all baddies will be gone)
Message 4 of 18
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Valued Contributor

Re: AZEO Works but It Can Be Harmful – Be Careful for Gotchas

You remind me of how I was in college -- I always had to get a 4.0 in each class or I was devastated and furious.   It's just a  type of OCD.   I wish I had graduated with a lower GPA (3.95 from U of Washington Business School) and had more fun.   Seriously.   My priorities were up my ass.

 

In your case, making the "mistakes" you have shared, I can't imagine your FICO scores went up/down more than 5 or 10 points.   Who cares unless you need a 780 to get the best score on a mortgage or some similar threshhold at one point in time?

 

I am one to talk.  I allow exactly $3 to report each month on one card with my revolving limits of 220K.   I suffer the same affliction.   But it's not normal (nor healthy).

FICO 08: EX-748, EQ-715, TU-740 - [5/28/2020]
FICO 09: EX-791, EQ-770, TU-806 (5/28/2020)
Mortgage: EX-725, EQ-732, TU-742 - [5/28/2020]
NFCU NavChk 15K | NFCU Visa 50K | CapOne Venture Visa 50K | CapOne Savor 30K | Barclay Aviator MC 12.5K | Discover It 32K | Alliant 3% Cash Back Visa 25K | BECU CLOC 10K | BofA AK Air Visa 5K |Amazon Prime 10K.
239.5K Total Revolving.
Alliant Auto Loan 6.5K/31K
BK 7 Filed 8/23/2013 - Discharged 11/27/2013.
Message 5 of 18
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Regular Contributor

Re: AZEO Works but It Can Be Harmful – Be Careful for Gotchas

Hey CH-7-Rebuilding:

 

     I wish I could have even come close to a 4.0 in a semester, not alone a year.  I fully admit my priorities were skewed at times in my life – too many times. You are correct; my scores did not fluctuate more than 10 points in the last year plus, but there were times (usually during experiments) that I saw huge (I mean huge) 50 point drops. Of course any drop that you manipulate can be quickly reversed in a couple months, but seeing “exceptional” skip right past “very good” to “good” on a CRA score will make an OCD person like you and I go ballistic. And you are absolutely correct, who cares about the score when you don’t use them.

 

As I said to BBS, I am compulsive since I found the forum. Maybe we should start a “myFICO anonymous” group?

 

Hello everyone my name is Y

 

Hi Y

 

I just can’t stop worrying about my card utilization going over 8.99%

 

I know what you mean Y.

 

No you don’t understand. If it goes over 9% I fall into the next bucket and take a FICO hit.

 

Wow Y

 

No you folks just don’t get it. I will lose 20 points on my FICO 8 classic score. Who knows what it will do to my middle mortgage score or auto enhanced score.

 

Holly cow Y, what will happen then.

 

Well silly, don’t you understand. My scores will drop as I said. I may not qualify for the best mortgage or auto rates.

 

Oh I see. Are you are going to buy a house or car.

 

No you dweeb. I don’t need a house or car; but my mortgage and auto scores will drop.

 

And what will that do?

 

Well I can’t get that new super-duper chilly-willy beach cooler that I need for the 4th of July at 0% interest.

 

Oh you are going on vacation to the beach this summer with the beach cooler.

 

You are the dumbest people I ever spoke with. I don’t swim. I hate the beach and I get burned easily, why would I go to the beach? Why would anyone go to the beach, there are sharks in the water? You folks just don't understand about the best rates.

 

Oh, I understand

 

Oh no you don’t. You people don’t understand anything that is important. Why am I here?

 

Well Y, you’re here because you are a FICO-holic. You have this insatiable need to keep your utilization below 8.99%. You’re not satisfied with just your total utilization there but you spend all your energy to keep every individual card there too.


What’s wrong with you people, that’s normal.

 

Y, you pay your bills two weeks early so as not to be late even though you can pay them the day before electronically and have no problem.

 

Well smarty pants, what if there is a hurricane and the power is out – then what?

 

Y, do you worry about AAoA and AoYA? What about credit mix and did you ever freak out over an inquiry?

 

I had AT&T give me an inquiry that I never requested. It took me 3-months to fight with those folks.

 

Oh Y, you are in the right place. I lost my girlfriend because I was arguing with Sprint about an inquiry on her birthday. I spent the whole night on the telephone while she went out with my best friend. The two of them have been married now for 5 years.

 

Well did Sprint get rid of that inquiry?

 

Y you have a long way to go; but thanks for sharing.

Current FICO 8 Scores:
EQ 792 (12/24/19), TU 819 (12/23/19), EX 824 (12/23/19)
EQ 788 (11/22/19), TU 817 (11/22/19), EX 828 (11/23/19)
EQ 772 (10/29/19), TU 799 (10/29/19), EX 808 (10.29/19)
Message 6 of 18
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Valued Contributor

Re: AZEO Works but It Can Be Harmful – Be Careful for Gotchas


@ytzak wrote:

Hey CH-7-Rebuilding:

 

     I wish I could have even come close to a 4.0 in a semester, not alone a year.  I fully admit my priorities were skewed at times in my life – too many times. You are correct; my scores did not fluctuate more than 10 points in the last year plus, but there were times (usually during experiments) that I saw huge (I mean huge) 50 point drops. Of course any drop that you manipulate can be quickly reversed in a couple months, but seeing “exceptional” skip right past “very good” to “good” on a CRA score will make an OCD person like you and I go ballistic. And you are absolutely correct, who cares about the score when you don’t use them.

 

As I said to BBS, I am compulsive since I found the forum. Maybe we should start a “myFICO anonymous” group?

 

Hello everyone my name is Y

 

Hi Y

 

I just can’t stop worrying about my card utilization going over 8.99%

 

I know what you mean Y.

 

No you don’t understand. If it goes over 9% I fall into the next bucket and take a FICO hit.

 

Wow Y

 

No you folks just don’t get it. I will lose 20 points on my FICO 8 classic score. Who knows what it will do to my middle mortgage score or auto enhanced score.

 

Holly cow Y, what will happen then.

 

Well silly, don’t you understand. My scores will drop as I said. I may not qualify for the best mortgage or auto rates.

 

Oh I see. Are you are going to buy a house or car.

 

No you dweeb. I don’t need a house or car; but my mortgage and auto scores will drop.

 

And what will that do?

 

Well I can’t get that new super-duper chilly-willy beach cooler that I need for the 4th of July at 0% interest.

 

Oh you are going on vacation to the beach this summer with the beach cooler.

 

You are the dumbest people I ever spoke with. I don’t swim. I hate the beach and I get burned easily, why would I go to the beach? Why would anyone go to the beach, there are sharks in the water? You folks just don't understand about the best rates.

 

Oh, I understand

 

Oh no you don’t. You people don’t understand anything that is important. Why am I here?

 

Well Y, you’re here because you are a FICO-holic. You have this insatiable need to keep your utilization below 8.99%. You’re not satisfied with just your total utilization there but you spend all your energy to keep every individual card there too.


What’s wrong with you people, that’s normal.

 

Y, you pay your bills two weeks early so as not to be late even though you can pay them the day before electronically and have no problem.

 

Well smarty pants, what if there is a hurricane and the power is out – then what?

 

Y, do you worry about AAoA and AoYA? What about credit mix and did you ever freak out over an inquiry?

 

I had AT&T give me an inquiry that I never requested. It took me 3-months to fight with those folks.

 

Oh Y, you are in the right place. I lost my girlfriend because I was arguing with Sprint about an inquiry on her birthday. I spent the whole night on the telephone while she went out with my best friend. The two of them have been married now for 5 years.

 

Well did Sprint get rid of that inquiry?

 

Y you have a long way to go; but thanks for sharing.


You totally crack me up!   You won't be surprised to learn that I'm also a 20 year friend of Bill W., so I have some experience in the realm of sharing about my OCD tendencies as well!    My mom passed away a couple of months ago and several of my high school buddies whom I grew up with flew in to Seattle for her funeral -- several from the East Coast, which floored me.   Three of us were best friends growing up.   One of my buddies is the CEO of a chain of burger stores in the South -- he has like 60 stores and he was hired by a hedge fund to do a workout, which succeeded and he's just collecting his salary now.   The second friend has been a controller for small businesses since college.  He got his CPA.   These guys have never had a late payment nor gone over their credit limit nor made any credit mistakes, or spent more than 5 minutes thinking about their credit file.   And I asked them and their scores are in the 830 to 850 range.  These are what I would call "normal" people.   They have high FICOs, they use credit wisely and they have never effed up.   They are the more typical human being who has a decent job and a sense of responsibility.    Three credit cards and two car loans and one mortgage.  Their scores are near perfect and they spend not a minute thinking about why.   They just have the natural ability to handle their money well.   They have suffered downsizings and job losses in the 40 years since we graduated high school, but they never let their credit suffer because they saved their money when they had it and never lived above their means.

 

I on the other hand have made just about every mistake a guy can make with his credit.   But I'm still learning and growing.

FICO 08: EX-748, EQ-715, TU-740 - [5/28/2020]
FICO 09: EX-791, EQ-770, TU-806 (5/28/2020)
Mortgage: EX-725, EQ-732, TU-742 - [5/28/2020]
NFCU NavChk 15K | NFCU Visa 50K | CapOne Venture Visa 50K | CapOne Savor 30K | Barclay Aviator MC 12.5K | Discover It 32K | Alliant 3% Cash Back Visa 25K | BECU CLOC 10K | BofA AK Air Visa 5K |Amazon Prime 10K.
239.5K Total Revolving.
Alliant Auto Loan 6.5K/31K
BK 7 Filed 8/23/2013 - Discharged 11/27/2013.
Message 7 of 18
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Regular Contributor

Re: AZEO Works but It Can Be Harmful – Be Careful for Gotchas

 
 
 

37-years with Dr. Bob and BIll

 

Y

Current FICO 8 Scores:
EQ 792 (12/24/19), TU 819 (12/23/19), EX 824 (12/23/19)
EQ 788 (11/22/19), TU 817 (11/22/19), EX 828 (11/23/19)
EQ 772 (10/29/19), TU 799 (10/29/19), EX 808 (10.29/19)
Message 8 of 18
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Senior Contributor

Re: AZEO Works but It Can Be Harmful – Be Careful for Gotchas

I really don't care about tweaking my scores with any system to play with the margins of where they "could be" - I'm maintaining plenty of available credit and I am willing and able to pay all my bills on time, no matter what.  But that's not why I'm posting to this thread.

 

THIS thread should be required reading for everyone that comes to MF for advice and direction and I must say if I could mega-kudo the whole thing I would. Longterm life experience through a changing world over decades is probably not that important to the instant gratification generation, but there is a lot of life wisdom posted here.  

 

Just wanted to say thank you, from another old fart that's been there and done that too Smiley Wink

Message 9 of 18
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Valued Contributor

Re: AZEO Works but It Can Be Harmful – Be Careful for Gotchas

We need to get three or four virtual rocking chairs so we can scream at these FICO tykes to "get the eff off my lawn."   We can have the curmudgeon corner of the site.  LOL.    Old grouchy guys with hemmorrhoids dispense credit wisdom for the ages ... crankily (and early so as not to interfere with our naps!)

FICO 08: EX-748, EQ-715, TU-740 - [5/28/2020]
FICO 09: EX-791, EQ-770, TU-806 (5/28/2020)
Mortgage: EX-725, EQ-732, TU-742 - [5/28/2020]
NFCU NavChk 15K | NFCU Visa 50K | CapOne Venture Visa 50K | CapOne Savor 30K | Barclay Aviator MC 12.5K | Discover It 32K | Alliant 3% Cash Back Visa 25K | BECU CLOC 10K | BofA AK Air Visa 5K |Amazon Prime 10K.
239.5K Total Revolving.
Alliant Auto Loan 6.5K/31K
BK 7 Filed 8/23/2013 - Discharged 11/27/2013.
Message 10 of 18
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