I like to post not only about getting great credit card sign-up bonuses, but I also like to post about what applying for those great cards does to my credit score.  I have always found that sort of information very interesting, so I think it is only fair to share my experiences in return.  I put the word like in quotation marks, because my credit score always seems to take a larger hit than the standard party line of “2-5 points per application”, so watching the dip in my score is never very fun.  However, as you will see in a minute, my score also seems to often rebound very quickly so I guess it all evens out.

First, here is some basic information about my application/credit situation.  I currently have five Equifax inquiries,  three Experian inquiries, and four TransUnion inquires on my credit report.  Inquiries happen each time you apply for credit and they show on your credit report for two years, but seem to have less influence on your score after one year.  My Chase Ink Bold application pulled from Equifax for me in Texas, and my Barclays Bank US Airways MasterCard pulled from TransUnion.  You can get a good idea of what credit bureau certain banks will pull from by going to creditboards.com.  I have open seven new credit card accounts this year, so the average age of my accounts has dropped considerably in the past few months.  I have kept my oldest accounts open.  My credit utilization percentage is very low.  It is typically 1-2% of all available credit.  Currently my report shows 6% utilization on one card, and that is the highest utilization on any one card.  I did recently have to lose a significant amount of available credit on some of my “everyday use” cards in order to get approved for the Ink Bold, so my utilization may go up some shortly.  My score and report currently reflect the most recent inquiries, and do display the new US Airways credit card account, but do not display my lowered credit limits on some of my Chase cards.

There are tons of free, cheap, and expensive ways to keep an eye on your credit report.  In addition to getting one free report annually from each credit bureau, I use Credit Karma (free) and Citi IdentityMonitor ($4.95 a month).  To get to the discounted $4.95 a month rate for Citi IdentityMonitor, paste this into your browser.  identitymonitor.citi.com/index.aspx?source=IMN00291

Both services offer value, but I really like Citi’s IdentityMonitor service because it is affordable and offers all three bureau’s estimated FICO credit scores and credit reports.  The credit scores can be refreshed every 30 days.  They are just estimates, so keep that in mind.  It comes with other benefits as well, but the scores and reports are what I use most frequently.  It also sends you email alerts when there is something like a new inquiry on one of your reports.

According to Credit Karma (who admittedly doesn’t use a real FICO score, but the score is based on TransUnion information and it still gives you a good idea of how your score is trending), my credit score right before my most recent two applications was 774.  It doesn’t show as 774 on the graph below, because that graph shows you an average score for each month, and my high of 774 happened in early November right before my applications.  Just about a month later my score is now 753.  That is as drop of 21 points in one month after two applications.  Ugh.  This sort of thing has happened to me before.  Back in August my score with Credit Karma went from 766 to 753 after one application, so I am kind of used to my score taking bigger drops than “normal” with inquiries.

As you can see, my score climbed steadily after the August application dip until recently when I had two more credit card applications.  My plan is to again lay off the credit card applications for a few months.  Hopefully my score will again climb back up a few notches during that time.

Below are the credit scores that Cit’s IdentityMonitor service gave me today.  I would like to be in the excellent category across the board, just as I was a little over a year ago when I obtained the mortgage on my home, but that is the trade-off that I have made by playing the miles and points credit card game.  For me it has very much been worth it.  I am still getting approved for cards, my credit is still in the good – excellent range, and I am traveling (virtually) for free several times a year with my family.  My ego isn’t fed by whether my credit score says good or excellent, so I don’t lose any sleep over the small-ish effect that this had had on my score.

I also know that if I quit obtaining new cards all together that within a year my scores would probably be in the excellent category across the board.  At seven new accounts this year, I certainly have obtained more cards that the “Average Joe”, however I am by no means up there with the true credit card churners.  You have to decide for yourself what amount of credit activity is right for you.  My dad has a limit of probably about one new card per year.  My mom now gets about one new card per quarter.  I got closer to two new cards per quarter this year.  We all have different travel goals and risk tolerances.  There are certainly more ways than just new credit card sign-up bonuses to obtain miles and points, but currently sign-up bonuses are one of the quickest and easiest ways.  That being the case, it is essential that you keep a close eye on your credit reports and scores in order to make informed decisions about applying (or not applying) for new cards in the future.

If you have decided now is the time to add some new cards to your collection, you can check out some of the top credit card offers for families here.  I do receive a commission for approved applications for some of the cards listed.  I do not receive any commission or referral bonus for any of the credit monitoring services listed in this post.  I just use them and like them. ;)

What services do you use to watch your score?  What sort of effect has new card applications and accounts had on your score this year?

Posted by Mommy Points | 27 Comments

27 Responses to “My Credit Score Aftermath: Ink Bold and US Airways MasterCard Applications”

  1. Maury says:

    Does the Citi Identity Monitor give you the number of inquiries that you have and when they will fall off? Thank you

  2. Tim says:

    I use Identity Guard through Costco. I’ve found it’s score to be very conservative. My Experian dropped to 725 at one point, but then my Capital One Venture paperwork weeks later said 760. Got a gap loan for a new car, ID Guard was 750 while the auto score said 790. It was 730 around Halloween, then two days later using Amex it said 770! I don’t mind a conservative number. At $90/year I feel it’s worth it.
    TransUnion and Equifax aren’t worth watching in SoCal, only Barclays uses it for inquiries.

  3. zakon says:

    The Citi IdentityMonitor link doesn’t work. Their regular offer is $1 for the first month and $12.95 afterwards. Do you have the $4.95/month rate grandfathered, or is there a current such offer?

  4. Robert says:

    Thank you for the creditkarma.com reference.

  5. Kay says:

    I’m so glad you posted about this. I’ve got 13 inquiries on my Experian report, and my score dropped down to 730 (it was 756 before my last app-o-rama). I think the score gets dragged down by a combination of inquiries and a lot of new credit. Experian gets pulled for my Chase and Amex applications, so I’m holding off on those for a while. It takes some self discipline to pass up all those good offers. I’m not sure what credit score should be my cutoff for applications. Ideally they would all be above 760 all the time, but I’m always tempted… What score would you use as a cutoff?

  6. bringer says:

    I use true credit (truecredit.com)..it is about $10 for me and I just sign up a few days before I am about to do a churn..I do churns around 4 times a year so it only costs me about $40 to get the big picture..I use creditkarma to track the trending of my credit…I also annually get my free reports from annualcreditreport.com. I’ve been churning cards for almost 2 years now and my scores have all just gone up and up. Millions of miles and points earned and increased credit scores…what a great hobby :-)

  7. Jonathan says:

    Does this assume all other action is stagnant on your reports? You don’t carry a balance and you pay off your card before the balance gets posted to the credit reports? That’s something that could account for a dip – if you are meeting a $5,000 spend and you don’t pay it before amex or chase or whoever reports your balance, then it shows up and maybe that is causing the higher drop in credit? I believe we do not know when exactly the balance is reported, so it would be hard to know the answer to this…

  8. mommypoints says:

    @Maury, it does show you the inquiries on each report as well as when they were made. I think you have to do your own math on this one as to when they fall off. I think technically they fall off at two years plus a month or so.

    @Tim, glad you found a system that works for you!

    @zakon, sorry guess it was only working for me since I was logged in. Try pasting this in your browser:
    identitymonitor.citi.com/index.aspx?source=IMN00291

    @Robert, no problem!

    @Kay, I have read anywhere from 700, to 720, to 750 is the cut-off for some things. I like mine to personally stay at least around the 750 mark, but I know people get approvals much closer to 700. So, as long as you are staying in that range it seems you should be okay for most things. That is all just anecdotal information though. ;)

    @bringer, that is awesome your scores have gone up as a reward for your “hobby”. Good job!

    @Jonathan, my highest utilization on any card when these scores were done was 6%. Overall utilization was 1-2%, so there was no high unpaid balance. While there are pros/cons to doing so, I typically pay my balance of a couple times during the month. The only exception for me is a charge card that I like to get relatively high one month so it shows that amount as the highest available credit. That was not happening on this report though, so yes, everything else was constant for this drop just as it was for my August drop.

    @

  9. Ian says:

    I use Freecreditreport.com because I used to work for them a couple of years ago and employees get somewhat of a lifetime use of the site for free even after they leave the company. That was the only good thing about working there. Besides that I only apply for 2 to 3 new cards a year just to keep things in check. I get lots of miles from other activities like the Grand Slam and hotel stays etc. At the moment I have more miles than I can use.

  10. IPBrian says:

    @mommypoints I have the same question as @maury above…I am using TransUnion ($14.95/month) right now and am wondering if Citi identity monitor does alerts for which bureaus your inquiries are on. I like the alert emails that something has changed and $4.95 per month would be awesome!

    • mommypoints says:

      @IPBrian, it alerts me to those sort of activities. In fact, that alert is what reminded me to do this post! Here is an example from my last alert email.

      As a member of Citi® IdentityMonitor®, your credit file is monitored every business day, and you are alerted to certain changes that may indicate fraud – such as new inquiries, address changes or account openings.

      Recent activity was detected on your Equifax credit file.

  11. tassojunior says:

    My hits have been very temporary and new cards have increased my scores after a couple months. Usually a 10 point hit which lasts less than 2 months, then a 10-15 point rise. That’s for an app-o-rama of 2 to 3 cards.

    My biggest problem is average age of cards (3 years). My biggest hit (15 points) came when I closed all AmEx cards with about a $25K credit line. My score stays between 740 and 770.

  12. Sean says:

    @Zakon – Google “Citi IdentityMonitor 4.95″ and you’ll see a link to a SlickDeals post that has the $4.95 link in it.

    @MP – Any chance you do a full review on the Citi service? I’ve read some reviews at various places online and there seem to be more negative ones than positive ones. I’d like your perspective since you obviously like the service.

    Thanks!

  13. Sean says:

    @Zakon – oops! it was a Fat Wallet thread. Here’s think link:

    http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/703308/

  14. IPBrian says:

    @mommypoints…Fantastic! I think truecredit is getting kicked to the curb!

  15. Kalboz says:

    Mine dropped from 761 to 739 (22 points drop) … but this was because of the required spending threshold which will bring the credit utilization ratio up and thus negatively affecting the credit ratings.

  16. mommypoints says:

    @tassojunior, that sounds like a good range. Mine is pretty similar.

    @Sean, thanks for sharing the link. I’d be happy to do a review on it. I haven’t really researched what others don’t like about it yet, but it seems to meet my basic needs for a very fair price!

    @IPBrian, ha ha. Happy to help!

    @Kalboz, at least some of that is very temporary then! Thanks for sharing.

  17. Joe says:

    of course the ‘party line’ is an under-estimate of the drop your credit will take…..

    the guy who touts a 2-5 point drop just wants to encourage people to sign-up for credit cards, using his referral links!

    Pretty obvious to me.

    • mommypoints says:

      @Joe, I don’t think the 2-5 point info is limited to any one specific guy. There are many who have stated that range. I do think it is true in many cases (heck even on this post some people report scores that go up as a result of churning), but it just doesn’t seem to be true in my case. I’m all for people using my referral links when they decide to get cards as well, but I am also all for full disclosure that some people’s scores drop more than 2-5 points after some applications……though my score usually rebounds just fine. I’m pretty sure all of the miles and points bloggers would agree that some people’s scores are hit harder than others by new inquiries and accounts.

  18. Tim C. says:

    How did you access your FICO score for each of the three credit bureaus? When I subscribed using your link, they only showed me a summary score.

  19. trentswanson says:

    7 new cards this year. Net gain of 40 FAKO points in the mid to upper 700s since July ’11. I’ve found the key is to spend small amount (<$10) on each new card to establish quick usage after card openings. This typically causes a rebound of 15 points after the initial credit hit of around -10 points, netting +5 points per application within 60 days of opening. you'll also get a few extra points by paying off on the day the bank reports to its respective credit bureau rather than waiting to pay until the statement due date.

  20. Walt_K says:

    A couple points. Inquiries have absolutely zero effect on FICO score after one year. They do stay on the report, but it is not that they have less effect, they are not scored at all after the one year mark. That is for FICO scoring, no idea how the varios other scoring models (Transrisk, Vantage, Plus, etc.) score inquiries.

    Also, there are probably a couple things at issue with the 2-5 point drop that people report. If you are newer to the credit world (i.e., you are young or you are old but you never had many credit cards), your AAoA isn’t heavily weighted. So when you apply for a new account, you are getting dinged for an inquiry and you are also reducing your AAoA, possibly significantly. Thus, you are going to see a more drastic drop in your score. Someone who has been around a while and doesn’t close many cards is going to have a very heavily weighted AAoA. So their score is going to suffer because of the inquiry, but not much at all because of AAoA. I suspect that is part of the reason that some people’s experience differs from others. I don’t think anyone is deliberately underestimating to mislead anyone else. They are just reporting their experience and there are reasons, that flow naturally from the fact that they have been churning for a long time, that their experience might differ from someone else’s.

    And added to that, it seems almost everyone here is comparing drops in their FAKO scores. As stated in teh post, the score offered by CK might be good for trending (although FAKO and FICO often trend in opposite directions as well), that’s really all your seeing, is trending. So your CK FAKO score showed a drop, but to then quantify it as a 21 point drop, is to ignore the advice about looking to the score for trending purposes.

    @Tim C. You can only get your EX FICO score from a lender, or if you happen to be eligible to join PSECU, a PA credit union. You used to be able to join PSECU by donating to one of their parks, but after too many people signed up for the FICO score, they shut that down.

    @trentswanson. You said you get a few extra points by paying off the day the bank reports. To clarify on that, most (not all) credit cards report your statement balance. So you need to pay your balance so the payment is credited before your statement closes. Whatever shows up on the bill is what they will report. They don’t always report it the day the statement cuts, a lot of them have a few days delay, and then there is a delay of some time on the part of the CRAs updating. But when they report, they refer back to the statement balance. There are a few cards (some HSBC cards, but they may have started changing this) that will report the end of month balance. Vast majority of cards, especially cards from prime banks, report your statement balance. The general rule to maximize your FICO score is to let only one card report a balance. All others should report $0. You want the one card that reports a balance to report 9% or less (utilization rounds up, so if you are over 9% at all it will go to 10%), of that card’s CL. That is 9% of that single card’s CL, not 9% of your total CL.

    • mommypoints says:

      @Walt, thanks so much for your detailed information. I agree with pretty much everything. I do think that some people’s scores do indeed just drop 2-5 points, but most likely due in part to my average age of account that mine drops more. The only thing I would disagree with is that providing the information that my Credit Karma FAKO scored dropped 21 points is going against sharing information about trends. That is a trend for me, so I do think it is helpful to share that information. I don’t know if this mirrors my actual FICO score drop, but it is still an interesting piece of information about how my score seems to trend after applications with CK.

      Thanks again for the useful info!

  21. Walt_K says:

    @mommypoints, I guess what I meant is that if you looked at your TU FICO, you might be surprised to find that it dropped only 4-10 points as expected (then again, maybe not). MY CK Transrisk score dropped from 787 to 712 in Sept. I have no idea why. I did not apply for anything and can’t find anything different on my reports. The same day I pulled the Transrisk update, I pulled a Vantage update on CK and my Vantage score went from 809 to 834. These FAKO scores can be tricky. My FICO scores range from 720(EQ) – 750(EX).

    By the way, for anyone interested, a cheap way to get your TU FICO is to apply for the Walmart credit card. You get a free monthly FICO score. Of course, it may be hard to justify using up an inquiry on that when you could be getting a card with a great signup bonus, but it’s a nice benefit. However, to add to the confusion (which abounds with credit scores), the version you get from Walmart is TU08. The version you get on myfico.com is TU98. The version that a lot (most?) mortgage lenders seem to be using now is TU04.

  22. Roger says:

    I’m new to card-churning and I’m trying to decide what this sentence means:
    “I did recently have to lose a significant amount of available credit on some of my “everyday use” cards in order to get approved for the Ink Bold, so my utilization may go up some shortly.”
    Does this mean you knew before applying for the new card what you needed to do to qualify? A certain score / utilization / etc.??
    It sounds like you understand what you need to do to qualify before-hand and then you make the necessary change to your credit portfolio. Is this right? If so, could you point me in the right direction to find that sort of information. Thanks.

    • mommypoints says:

      @Roger, first welcome to card churning!! Second, what I meant by that was that when I called Chase to check on the status of my application I was told that in order to get approved I had to lower the credit limits on some of my personal cards. Essentially, Chase didn’t want to risk giving me any more credit (and in fact wanted me to have less overall credit than I started with before this application). So, I didn’t know it ahead of time, it was just something that they asked for when I called in.

  23. [...] range even after getting multiple rewards credit cards in the past 12 months.  Just like I did last time, I will keep you posted about what happens to my credit scores after these two inquiries hit my [...]

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