How I raised my credit scores 100+ points and got my first $15K travel rewards credit card!
So if you're anything like me, then you probably don't have the best credit in the world... and that's OK. Many people don't have good credit and it's nothing to feel ashamed of. However, if you want more out of life that requires you to have somewhat decent credit, then it's time you start doing something about it! Don't be one of those people that let those 3 little numbers stop you from having the things you truly deserve out of life. Credit is not everything, but it is something to concern yourself with if you want good interest rates when it comes to financing big things such as a car or house... And well, that's where my story begins...
I started my credit journey 3 years ago in 2016. I knew I didn't have the best credit and I really didn't understand the concept of why credit was so important in the first place. It wasn't until I began wanting things that money alone couldn't buy me. A condo, for instance.... I was interested in buying my first piece of property and I wanted to know where to start. What I kept running into while searching for answers was that 6 letter word "CREDIT." Everyone wanted to see credit. My credit report, my credit history, my credit scores and so on and so forth.... There was just no getting around it. That's when I realized "OK, if I want this condo, I have to start working on my credit." And that's exactly what I did. I reached out to a credit professional and enlisted their help in getting the process started. They explained to me that I first needed to get copies of my credit reports and find out what exactly was on them... Step 1.
After receiving my reports, I examined them closely and with the help of the credit experts- we were able to dispute inaccurate information and have things deleted off my reports. Which in turn helped raise my credit scores by a few points. Most of the things we disputed were either very old accounts, fraudulent accounts and accounts that weren't reflecting their proper status. I even learned that something as minor as my name being spelled wrong had a negative impact on my credit. Who knew?! After reviewing everything for accuracy, the next step was to verify my identity and get the negative accounts off my credit report! Step 2.
When I started working on my credit, my scores were in the mid 500's and the rating for that was labeled as "poor." However after having things deleted and updated, my scores quickly rose to the high 500's and even the low 600's. I still had a bit of work to do though... I began reading articles on how to raise my credit and one of the things suggested was that I pay for a monitoring service. It's basically a service that alerts you whenever your credit is ran or when an account is opened in your name. Which is important to have if you think someone might be using your information to apply for credit. The monitoring service cost me $19.99 a month through Experian and it updates me every month with what's going on with my credit. In order to fix your credit, you have to be aware of what's going on with it first and eliminate any threat that may potentially damage it. There are tons of monitoring services out there, both free and at a premium cost. Figure out which one is best for you. Step 3.
Small things like verifying your identity and disputing incorrect addresses can help raise your scores. You might be surprised at what you find on your credit report that could be incorrect and holding you back. You can obtain free copies of your credit reports from all 3 reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, Transunion) once a year. Once that's done, you'll know exactly what you need to do to proceed. Disputing the inaccuracies was easy. I submitted the disputes online through the reporting agency and within 30 days time, I was notified on whether or not the item was deleted, updated or showed no change. Some things I had to dispute multiple times before it eventually got deleted. So don't be discouraged when things don't automatically drop off... It does take time. Remember, I started this journey in 2016! Dispute and update!! Step 4.
Once I started the disputes and things were deleted from my credit report, I started to notice a change in my credit. Suddenly I'd be alerted that my score shot up 26 points and that a particular account was deleted and no longer reporting on my credit. Great, just the progress I was looking for. But there were other times when I'd get an alert letting me know that my credit went down by 35 points because something with an extended history was deleted.... So that's the catch... some things that have been on your report for a few years (while it may be reporting as negative) can actually help your score since it shows history. History is any account with a long standing background. For example, that cell phone you had back in 2009. That's a 10 year credit history. Once deleted, the history is gone as well, thus lowering your credit score. But not to fear, the negative account is gone and that counts as working on your credit. You want positive items since those are what help raise your score. Get rid of the negative and start fresh with the positive. Step 5.
Over the course of these last 3 years, my credit has seen it's ups and downs... literally. Starting in the mid 500's to now being in the mid 700's has taken a lot of time, energy and patience. However I can now say that it is starting to pay off. Getting approved for a $15,000 line of credit with a travel rewards card is proof that my hard work and dedication was not done in vain. It has definitely been worth the wait. As I share this, I'm reminded to point out that inquiries can hurt your credit as well. So don't go applying for credit at too many places! When you do that it shows lenders that you might be a risk and it lowers your scores by a few points each time. So be weary about co-signing for others, applying for credit that you don't necessarily need and financing purchases that you can't afford to pay off- furniture is one of those examples. Don't be bought by high interest rates that you can never escape. It makes no sense to buy something for $1,000 if by the time you pay it off with interest- it cost you $1,500. Higher credit gets lower interest rates. So don't apply if you can't afford to buy. Step 6.
My ultimate goal is to still buy my condo, one day.... and being approved for this credit card lets me know that I'm on the right track to get there. It's encouraging and makes me want to continue working on my credit and make sure nothing affects it. Another thing to keep in mind, a $15,000 credit limit does NOT mean you have $15,000 to spend. DO NOT ever spend over your limit and realistically you don't ever want to spend more than 10-30% of your overall limit. It may be tempting, but don't do it. That'll hurt you more than anything and defeats the entire purpose of building your credit. You never want to be sucked into a hole that you can't get out of. Maintain positive limits and pay them off timely. That'll increase your chances of being approved for even higher limits and open you up to receiving more offers... But again, don't be fooled by those "pre-approval" letters in the mail. They want you to apply for credit. Don't fall for it. Only use what you need and don't get greedy. The goal is to build! Step 7.
I plan to use my card for traveling, duh! But not only that, since it rewards me with points for dining at restaurants, staying in hotels and buying airfare- I can then use those points to travel more! I applied for this card in particular because I already do those things and I wanted a credit card that would reward me for it, so this was the perfect card for me. Trust me, I did my research on it before applying. A co-worker suggested it to me and explained all the benefits and advantages of having it. After a day of contemplation, studying and reading the reviews for the card, I finally decided to take the chance and apply. To my surprise I was approved the following day! They expedited the card to me and I received it in just 3 days. Rapid and rewarding, definitely some good perks. Getting approved for this card makes me feel one step closer to getting approved for my property. I look forward to continuing to build my credit and put myself in a position to visit a realtor one day. Until then- I plan to use this card responsibly and make the most of it! I can't wait to start earning the rewards and perks that comes along with it.
I'll be sure to share my adventures and my journey with my new card. Thanks for reading and as always, if you enjoyed this blog and feel like someone might need the information shared, feel free to pass it along and share it on your social media outlets! Each one, teach one. For more information about this card visit chase.com/sapphirebenefits