As I’ve said before, I recently graduated from college, which means that I’ve never had a “real” job. I’ve worked for my dad for several years and have had various internships, but nothing long-term and secure. Although I’ve been traveling with my family since I was little, I only got into the travel-hacking game a couple of years ago. I started reading Rick’s blog along with FlyerTalk and several other blogs and quickly became intrigued by the prospects that credit card sign-ups offered. However, being in college with little to no credit history was an obstacle that I needed to overcome.
For a few years, I had be an authorized user of one of my dad’s credit cards in case of emergency. However, as you all know, being an authorized user doesn’t do too much for a credit report. The first thing I did was pull my reports to see where I stood: that ended up being nowhere. I didn’t have a credit report since I had no credit history even though I had been an authorized user for about four years. At that point, I wasn’t quite sure where to go. I decided that since credit card companies offered student cards that did not require a co-signer, I’d be approved! I didn’t really care that none of them offered miles or points of any kind – most are cash back cards – because I was mainly going to use it as a way to build my credit. However, my wishful thinking turned out to be wrong and I was denied for the card that I had applied for. Their reasoning? Insufficient credit history.
At this point, I was really confused on where to go so I contacted Rick to get his advice. I had read on his blog numerous times that he was happy to help anyone out so I took him up on his offer and asked him about my situation. Given that I had already been denied for a student card, he advised me to apply for a store account at a store such as Macy’s. I shop on Amazon a lot and they offer both a store account and a co-branded Chase credit card. Since I shop there so much, I figured it’d be the best store card for me to build my credit with. Unfortunately, they didn’t see it like that and I was denied for the Amazon card as well. At this point, I returned to Rick, who advised me to try to get an installment loan secured by a CD. Not all banks offer these and none of the four banks in my area do so I was out of luck on that front. Having successfully burning through all the usual options I turned to one that not many people recommend which is getting a co-signer. This option isn’t recommended because it opens the co-signer up to a lot of liability. Luckily, my dad was happy to help me out since he knew I wasn’t going to go crazy!
We signed up for the Chase Continental OnePass credit card that was available while Continental was still around. After my first purchase I would get 50,000 miles! The way Chase takes co-signers is that the person with good credit – my dad in this situation – applied for the card on his own. Once he was approved, he had to call in to add me as a “joint account holder.” Unlike an authorized user, a joint account holder is just as liable for the account as the primary account holder (my dad). This way, I was able to start building my credit. From there, I was off and running. I held that card for about 9 months before I even considered applying for another card. At this point I have a Barclays US Airways card – which I received in order to get an extra hit on the Grand Slam as well as 40,000 miles – a Chase Freedom® MasterCard , and finally a Chase Sapphire PreferredSM Card. I received all three of those cards without any co-signer of any kind. At this point, I’m happy with what I have as I can transfer UR points into many different programs, which gives me all the flexibility I want!
As of now, my TransUnion score is 751 (through Credit Karma) and my Experian score is 744 (through Credit Sesame), which are much better than the 0 that they were at the beginning of last year. Going forward, I’m looking to pick up the Starwood American Express card, but need to make sure that I can swing the $5,000 spend for the final 15,000 points, but will continue to keep a low profile while I continue to build my credit history. So far, I’ve been very Chase heavy and had to call the reconsideration line for my Sapphire Preferred before I was approved. There are still a number of Chase cards that I would like to get, such as the Chase Hyatt credit card, but since I don’t want to get rid of either of my current Chase cards, I will hold off for a little bit. This is a long-term game and I’m looking to stay in it for a long time. A little patience now will hopefully pay off later!
Deal of the Day
For today’s Deal of the Day FlyerTalk is giving away A FlyerTalk Luggage Tag & Hoodie combo for the best overall travel deal submitted. A great mileage run, mistake fare, partner promo, new card sign-up offer, or the special twist you figured out on a deal today. Add it to the comments section of this post (with your First Name, Last Initial, and 3 letter airport code) or this afternoon’s Deal of the Day post to be eligible to win.