Published on January 14th, 2015 | by William Charles28
My Credit Card Application Strategy
I generally don’t do my app-o-ramas like everybody else. I believe that individuals credit reports update in real time and as such there is no chance that applying for multiple cards within a short time frame will prevent credit card issuers from seeing that you’re applying for multiple cards on the same day.
What I like to do instead is this:
- Apply for multiple credit cards from the same credit card issuer on the same day, in the hopes that they will only pull my credit report once. As long as both the business and personal options are decent.
- Apply for cards from credit card issuers that pull from different bureaus. There are three different credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax & TransUnion) this means that I’ll try to spread my applications out over all three of these credit bureaus.
Tools/Resources You Need
There are several tools and resources that you can use to make this whole strategy a lot more manageable.
- A way to tell which credit bureau a credit card issuer will pull. The credit bureau a credit card issuer will pull is very dependent on what part of the country you live in. There are a number of ways to find this information out, but by far the best is the credit boards credit pull application. Enter the credit card issuer your interested in and then select your state and it’ll show you credit cards people applied for, whether they were approved or denied, their score, what credit bureau they pulled from & a bunch more information.
- A way to tell if a credit card issuer will combine multiple hard pulls or not. I put together this reference list as I was sick of having to find this out whenever I went to apply. Each card issuer has different rules (e.g some won’t combine business & personal pulls, others will).
- Free credit monitoring with each of the three credit bureaus. After you’ve applied you’re going to want to see what credit bureau the card issuer actually pulled, this might not match up with the credit bureau you were expecting them to pull which is why this is important. I recommend using Credit Karma & Credit Sesame as they will cover all three bureaus but below is a list of credit bureaus and free credit monitoring sites that cover those bureaus.
- A free copy of your credit reports from each bureau. This is just so you can see how many applications you currently have with each bureau. Credit Karma & Quizzle both offer free full reports, but you can also get one every twelve months from http://annualcreditreport.com/.
- Which card’s are churnable. Once you’ve been doing this for awhile, you will start to run out of cards with good sign up bonuses that you haven’t applied for. Thankfully it’s possible to get some of these bonuses again, this is called credit card churning. I’ve put together a list of churnable credit cards which you can view here.
Putting It All Into Practice
The easiest way to explain all of this is to give you an example. I live in California where most card issuers pull either Experian or Equifax. This means sign up bonuses from card issuers that pull those bureaus need to be higher than credit card issuers that pull TransUnion. I know this from my own personal experience, but I can also quickly check that from looking at the credit boards credit pull database as well.
Barclaycard is currently offering 50,000 miles on their US Airways card. I wanted to get this card for two reasons:
- U.S Airways & American Airlines will be merging their loyalty programs soon and I regularly use AA miles for my trip. This will probably be my last chance to get this card again.
- This card is churnable, I’ve had it before but I know I can get the sign up bonus again.
Now that I know what card I want to apply for, it’s time to use my strategy to see how I can maximize this offer.
- First thing is first, I need to find out what credit bureau Barclaycard will pull. The creditboards database has 8 pages of data when I select California + Barclay. Almost everybody is reporting that they pull TransUnion. This is good news for me since not many card issuers pull TransUnion in my State.
- Now I need to check to see if Barclaycard combines multiple credit pulls or not. I check the resource page and it looks like Barclaycard does combine pulls, but they will usually only auto approve you for the first card and you’ll have to call reconsideration for the next one. I could apply for another card as there is no risk of a second pull, but if I am denied that will show on Barclaycards system. They are pretty pick on too many recent applications and there aren’t any other cards I currently want so I decide against going for multiple cards.
- I’m approved for the card, yay! Now I need to make sure they actually pulled my TransUnion credit report. Great success, Credit Karma is showing that they did.
After I’m finished I add my experiences to the credit boards database to make it more useful for others. A few weeks later I check my credit report and notice that I haven’t applied for any cards from issuers that pull Experian recently and decide to apply for another card.
- I go to the credit pull database, click “Experian” and enter my state as California. I see reports of Chase, American Express & Bank of America all pulling Experian reports in California. Now I need to double check to see if they pull Experian exclusively or if they sometimes pull Equifax & TransUnion as well. I go back to the homepage of the database and type in “Card issuer” and California, but unselect Experian.
- American Express seems to almost exclusively pull Experian
- Bank of America seems to mostly pull Experian as well
- Chase seems to pull Experian most often, but will also pull Equifax sometimes
- I decide to go for Bank of America because I haven’t applied for any of their cards recently. I do some research and find three possible cards:
- AmeriCash $175 bonus
- Spirit 15,000 miles + $100 statement credit bonus
- Alaska Airlines 25,000 miles + $100 statement credit (annual fee of $75 not waived)
- I check and see that BofA does combine multiple credit pulls. You can apply for up to three cards and mix business & personal. I do some more research and don’t really see any business cards that I like the look of.
- I apply for all three cards (in order of importance). Great success, I’m approved for all three after some harrowing reconsideration calls.
- I receive a notification that my Experian credit report has been pulled, but it was only pulled once. Another great success, I applied and got approved for three cards and only received one hard pull. That’s 40,000 miles and $325 in cash plus I also now have access to the spirit card which makes redeeming those miles cheaper.
Note: The above is just an illustration for demonstration purposes, I am still uhming and ahhing over the three BofA cards. I’m hoping the Alaska card will go back up to 50,000 miles at some stage and whilst they are churnable it’s probably gonna make things more difficult to get approved having three recent BofA apps.
I think the main take away you should get from this is that you should be trying to get multiple cards with only one credit pull where ever possible. It’s also a good idea to keep an idea on all three of your credit reports and make sure you’re spreading the love between the three.
If you can’t manage credit responsible, you shouldn’t be applying for any credit cards at all. AoR’s are old school, I much prefer AAT’s (App Any Time). Patience is a virtue, wait for higher sign up bonuses to come along and then strike. Having a clear goal for the next one or two years of travel is key.