To continue with the idea of maximizing your airline and hotel bonuses, I thought I’d give you a look at my credit card portfolio and my success rate. Remember I’m the “olde guy” and have had some time to accumulate these cards, but did not really start using credit cards for sign up bonuses until 2000. So the history is primarily in the last 8 years.
To date I have had 65 different credit cards and presently have 25 open credit card accounts according to the latest check of Truecredit monitoring service. The majority of these cards have been airline and hotel cards that I acquired for sign up bonuses. My largest credit card line is $51,500 and smallest is $1,000 after moving most of that cards line to some other card I needed more credit on.
It did obtain about 12 cards last July for the purpose earning interest income on 0% interest balance transfer cards by depositing the money drawn on those cards in interest bearing savings accounts. It was a profitable experience and I’ll do it again when saving rates rise again.
My credit profile also shows that I have never had a late payment or derogatory comment on my credit reports. I did have one derogatory comment, from a medical bill in 2006 but was able to have that removed after some additional documentation, effort and persuasion.
In August of 2007, just before I took out the 12 new credit cards, my credit scores on the day of those applications were 726, 737, and 693 at the three credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. The lowest they dipped to were one month later in August when I had borrowed heavily against those cards and the new balances were showing on my credit file. The scores had dropped to 717, 678, and 674, where they basically remain today.
Since applying for 12 cards in July of 2007 I have had 22 additional inquiries to my credit, primarily from banks as I open new checking or savings accounts to take advantage of cash sign up bonuses. There have also been about 4 credit card approvals for sign up bonuses and promotions.
My credit scores will all rebound into the mid to upper 700′s and possibly 800′s within the next 30 days as the credit inquiries from July of 2007 age past one year and have less significance on my credit score. In addition, all the cards but two are now paid off and will show $0.00 balances by September. I will have a $2,400 balance remaining on a Discover personal card that I have 0% on for life as long as I make two purchases per month (I donate $1 each to the Humane Society and American Cancer Association) which each count as purchases and preserve the 0% rate. I also am carrying a $9,000 balance on a card for my son while he is in Australia at school. It more sense for me to carry his car debt as I could get a 0% rate for him with low monthly payments. When he gets back in the states, and employed he’ll refinance that into either another 0% card, auto loan or sell the car. It was just one of those Dad things we do sometimes.
In the years I have been applying for credit cards, I have turned down twice. I don’t mean to say that I have only been turned down twice. I mean I have only been unable to have a rejection letter reversed twice. I probably have been initially rejected 5 or 6 times but have been able to state my case for approval in letter form or reduced existing credit lines to gain approval for the card I was looking for and the attached sign up bonus.
I’m providing this information as background for you to compare your present credit card inventory and ability to use your credit for future bonuses.
Three key things to remember:
- I have never been late.
- I very rarely carry a balance where I am charged interest on my credit cards. Sure I have had balances on my 0% interest cards, but I consider those profitable opportunities.
- There are very, very few sign up bonuses that have a value greater than the interest you will pay on a credit card in a very short frame of time. If you can’t pay off your credit cards in full every month, you should not be opening new accounts.
And lastly, your credit is one of your most important assets. Don’t mess with it if you have major purchases contemplated in the near future.
I offered yesterday, to help you look over your current card portfolio and potential for future sign up bonuses. I hope this synopsis of my past credit card success will spur you into taking advantage of the opportunities in front of you.
IF… you can control yourself and preserve one of your most important assets.