Since the end of 2012, I’ve been applying for credit cards every 3 months, or 90 days between each application. If you space it to 90 days or greater between each bank’s application, they’re more likely to approve you; <90 days gets flagged as having “too many recent applications”. And although many think that having too many applications can lower your credit score significantly, it really only lowers it 3-7 points per application. The amount of recent applications, otherwise known as new credit, only comprises 10% of your total FICO credit score.
Since the amount of credit owed, or utilization, is 30% of your credit score, and the best tranche to be in within that category is 1-10% of total credit utilized, your credit score actually increases the more credit cards, and therefore more credit you have, goes up. If you’re spending $2000 per month on credit cards, your credit score will be much higher if you have $50,000 of total credit vs $10,000, because in the first scenario you’re utilizing 4% of your credit, vs 20% in the second. Here is a decent rundown of the components of a FICO credit score, although I have to disagree with him on his assertion that you “should avoid opening too many credit lines at the same time”; myself, and many other credit card churners, have been opening many credit cards every year, and our credit scores have only been going up! They take a slight hit with every application, or for me every 3 months, but then go up, and are often higher by the next application round. You should avoid applying more often than every 3 months though.
There are many credit monitoring services out there, some free, but almost all the time they will charge you for giving you your credit score. Might I suggest 3 alternatives, all free?
The first one is CreditKarma, which provides your score continually, and never asks your for a credit card (although it does require your SSN), so is totally free. I’m not going to give a review, as there are many online; this one is decent. I’ve used it for over 2 years and been very happy with it. The credit score I find to be not completely accurate, but the main thing I use it for is their proprietary Credit Report Card, which goes over each of the facets of your credit score; I’ll give an example of 3 of mine.
The first is a credit score report card, which goes over each facet of your credit score:
As you can see, because of my credit churning, I have a D in credit history age, and an F in number of credit inquiries; even with both of these negative scores though, I still have an excellent score.
I’ll go over one of my two derogatory areas, my account age:
As you can see, the longer you have accounts open, the better grade your credit score gets. Because most of my annual fees are waived because of the SCRA, I will not be cancelling them as frequently as most card churners, and therefore will start to accrue a longer account age gradually. Also, account age only has a MEDIUM impact on credit scores, and number of inquiries has a LOW impact, so that is fortunate for churners.
Another way to get a totally free credit score is if you have a Barclaycard credit card, such as the Arrival. They offer a totally free FICO score whenever you request it, as a benefit of being a card-holder. Remember they waive annual fees. When you log in to your account page, the FICO score is usually located at the very bottom right of the account page:
When you click on it, it will automatically give you your credit score, no payment required!
The last way to get a completely free credit score is through US Bank, who waives annual fees. They, similar to Barclaycard, off a credit score anytime for free, but this time an Experian score, which is one of the three major credit reporters. When you log in to your credit card account, click on the following link on the left sidebar:
It will take you through to an identity verification screen, where you need to enter your name, address, SSN, DoB, etc. After that, it will give you your Experian credit score, free of charge!
And there you have it, 3 different ways to get 3 different credit scores! If any of you has any other tips for getting free credit scores, please comment!