The Zen of Being Approved

For just about anything you want to get off your chest about credit cards.
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djrez4
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The Zen of Being Approved

Postby djrez4 » Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:02 pm

Please indulge me as I share my story.

I got my first two credit cards when I left for college in the late '90s. One was a Mastercard from a local bank and the second was a Discover card. While people tell me I'm a reasonably smart guy, my behavior with those initial cards was strong evidence to the contrary. I maxed them out and, without any income to speak of, couldn't pay them off. Thus, began my journey into poor credit.

I didn't touch another credit card for almost a decade after that. I was gun-shy. My first year of law school, I applied for and received a Capital One Visa because I figured I was a) more responsible and b) at that point in life where credit was important to me. I was correct about the latter, but dead wrong about the former, and repeated my college idiocy. This time, I was able to pay it off, eventually.

Post-law school, I also ran into some trouble with my student loans. I can honestly say that it wasn't my fault at the beginning. The lack of followup fell entirely on my shoulder, however. When I graduated, I applied to defer my loans for a while until I got a job and could make payments. My deferment was accepted, but I neglected to properly reapply for deferment when it expired. That lead to student loan default.

At this point, you're probably wondering how in hell I managed to get this far in life. I asked myself the same thing, many, many times. It was an embarrassing secret that I gradually buried until I simply didn't think about it any more.

In 2008, I met my wife. I wanted to start a family with her; own a home with her; do all the white picket fence things that families are supposed to do. That was the external inspiration I needed to get my act together. Why I couldn't find intrinsic inspiration, I can't tell you. But, it's working.

Here's what I've done in the past year to get everything back on track:
  • Spent countless hours reading and learning about financial responsibility and creditworthiness;
  • Student loan consolidation to bring them out of default;
  • Paid off old medical bills and parking tickets that I had been ignoring (did I forget to mention those?);
  • Obtained a secured card with a small limit and used it responsibly;
  • Became an authorized user on one of my wife's cards;

Now, thirteen months later, I felt that I was ready to face potential rejection from the gods of credit.

Last week, I applied for a Chase Freedom Visa. I knew it was a stretch, but I thought it was worth a shot based on a few FAKOs I'd received. Lo, I was approved for a $1000 limit. I called the reconsideration number and asked for an increased limit, really pushing my luck. They approved me for an increase to $5000. I was shocked!

I next applied for an American Express Gold charge card. Instant rejection. I called the reconsideration line. I sent in a faxed letter that said the following:

I was surprised to receive an online denial of my recent American Express Gold Card card application, reference #XXXXXXX.

I am asking you to reconsider your decision based on the following information:

I am employed, full time, as an attorney with XXXXX, and have an annual, gross income of $90,000. I began there as an independent contractor and was hired on, full-time, after proving my value to the firm.

American Express has been a part of my family since my dad became a member in 1974. I've grown up knowing the benefits of membership. I would like to become a member, for myself and for the family that my wife and I plan to start soon.

I currently use my debit card for daily spending, totaling around $2000 per month. It had rewards points until the recent federal legislation that eliminated them. I would like to transfer my everyday spending to an American Express Gold charge card, earn rewards points for my purchases, and build a relationship with American Express that I can take with me as my career and family grow.

The following two revolving credit accounts are not currently appearing on my Experian credit report. Both are current, payed as agreed, with zero-balances.

1) Amex/Dsnb 9111 Duke Blvd Mason OH 45040-8999 : (800) 243-6552
Account Number - XXXXXXX
Date Opened - 05/2010
High Credit - $115
Credit Limit - $8,000
Terms Frequency - Monthly
Months Reviewed - 14
Balance Amount - $0
Status - Pays As Agreed;
Type of Account - Revolving;
Type of Loan - Credit Card;
(Per Equifax report, dated 07/21/2012)
2) Chase Freedom Visa
Account Number - XXXXXXX
Date Opened — 07/2012
Credit Limit - $5000
Terms Frequency — Monthly
Balance Amount - $0
Status - Pays As Agreed;
Type of Account - Revolving;
Type of Loan - Credit Card;
(Not yet reported)

On my report, you can see seventeen student loan accounts that I have fully paid and on which I was never late. You can also see three further revolving credit accounts: two from WFNNB/Trek and one from Capital Bank. All three were never late and always paid as agreed.

I have not missed a payment on a loan or credit card in over three years and I intend to keep it that way. There are two negative items on my Experian report. Both are paid in full: the earliest, from Capital One, paid three years ago; the latest, CAC Financial, a medical bill from 2005 that my medical insurance told me they covered but that I have paid.

I notice that the status of my application says that I applied for a Preferred Rewards Gold Card. I am only applying for the standard American Express Gold Card.


And sat around waiting...

In the meantime, I spoke with a friend of mine who had just been through a bankruptcy (and had a higher credit score) who suggested I keep the luck rolling before any inquiries hit my report. So, I applied for a Discover More card. They instantly approved me for $16,000. I also applied for an REI Visa from US Bank and was was approved for $2500.

Yesterday, I got the initial rejection letter from American Express, listing the reasons for my rejection. Among other things, they pulled my FICO from Experian - 650.

Today, I received an email from American Express saying that they had approved my application.

I'm done with new applications for now, but it's nice not only to know what I've accomplished with my efforts, but that I'm considered a financially viable American once again. I intend to use the American Express for everyday expenses, the Chase Freedom on the quarterly 5% categories, the Discover on its 5% categories, and the REI Visa on REI purchases.

So, that's my journey from credit stupidity to credit zen. Glad to be here.
[RIGHT][size=100]- Sapphire Preferred - Freedom - Ink - Platinum - Everyday Preferred -[/size]
[/RIGHT]


jlam572
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Postby jlam572 » Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:37 pm

Awesome story. I made a lot of the same mistakes that you did and am still recovering from it lol.
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FastSRT8
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Postby FastSRT8 » Sat Aug 04, 2012 11:14 pm

Congrats. Keep on the awesome path you are on. Keep us posted on your next cards!
Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero!

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djrez4
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Postby djrez4 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:31 pm

FastSRT8 wrote:Congrats. Keep on the awesome path you are on. Keep us posted on your next cards!


There's a Costco Amex on its way as well. I applied for it last week in my spree, but the application never showed up on Amex's status page. I assumed the app had disappeared in to the ether. Then, I got an email saying I was approved. Surprise!
[RIGHT][size=100]- Sapphire Preferred - Freedom - Ink - Platinum - Everyday Preferred -[/size]

[/RIGHT]

FutureBillionaire
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Postby FutureBillionaire » Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:22 pm

djrez4 wrote:Please indulge me as I share my story.

I got my first two credit cards when I left for college in the late '90s. One was a Mastercard from a local bank and the second was a Discover card. While people tell me I'm a reasonably smart guy, my behavior with those initial cards was strong evidence to the contrary. I maxed them out and, without any income to speak of, couldn't pay them off. Thus, began my journey into poor credit.

I didn't touch another credit card for almost a decade after that. I was gun-shy. My first year of law school, I applied for and received a Capital One Visa because I figured I was a) more responsible and b) at that point in life where credit was important to me. I was correct about the latter, but dead wrong about the former, and repeated my college idiocy. This time, I was able to pay it off, eventually.

Post-law school, I also ran into some trouble with my student loans. I can honestly say that it wasn't my fault at the beginning. The lack of followup fell entirely on my shoulder, however. When I graduated, I applied to defer my loans for a while until I got a job and could make payments. My deferment was accepted, but I neglected to properly reapply for deferment when it expired. That lead to student loan default.

At this point, you're probably wondering how in hell I managed to get this far in life. I asked myself the same thing, many, many times. It was an embarrassing secret that I gradually buried until I simply didn't think about it any more.

In 2008, I met my wife. I wanted to start a family with her; own a home with her; do all the white picket fence things that families are supposed to do. That was the external inspiration I needed to get my act together. Why I couldn't find intrinsic inspiration, I can't tell you. But, it's working.

Here's what I've done in the past year to get everything back on track:
  • Spent countless hours reading and learning about financial responsibility and creditworthiness;
  • Student loan consolidation to bring them out of default;
  • Paid off old medical bills and parking tickets that I had been ignoring (did I forget to mention those?);
  • Obtained a secured card with a small limit and used it responsibly;
  • Became an authorized user on one of my wife's cards;

Now, thirteen months later, I felt that I was ready to face potential rejection from the gods of credit.

Last week, I applied for a Chase Freedom Visa. I knew it was a stretch, but I thought it was worth a shot based on a few FAKOs I'd received. Lo, I was approved for a $1000 limit. I called the reconsideration number and asked for an increased limit, really pushing my luck. They approved me for an increase to $5000. I was shocked!

I next applied for an American Express Gold charge card. Instant rejection. I called the reconsideration line. I sent in a faxed letter that said the following:



And sat around waiting...

In the meantime, I spoke with a friend of mine who had just been through a bankruptcy (and had a higher credit score) who suggested I keep the luck rolling before any inquiries hit my report. So, I applied for a Discover More card. They instantly approved me for $16,000. I also applied for an REI Visa from US Bank and was was approved for $2500.

Yesterday, I got the initial rejection letter from American Express, listing the reasons for my rejection. Among other things, they pulled my FICO from Experian - 650.

Today, I received an email from American Express saying that they had approved my application.

I'm done with new applications for now, but it's nice not only to know what I've accomplished with my efforts, but that I'm considered a financially viable American once again. I intend to use the American Express for everyday expenses, the Chase Freedom on the quarterly 5% categories, the Discover on its 5% categories, and the REI Visa on REI purchases.

So, that's my journey from credit stupidity to credit zen. Glad to be here.


This is awesome. I'm very happy for you.
Gas: Discover It, Penfed Platinum Rewards x2, Chase freedom, Citi TYP
Plane tickets: CSP
Groceries: AMEX BCP, Penfed Platinum Rewards,Citi TYP
Clothes: Express, Amex BCP, Discover IT
Amazon: Citi Forward, Cash +
Restaurants: Citi Forward, Chase Freedom, Discover IT, CSP
Hotels and other travel: Discover Escape, CSP
Movies: BofA travel rewards visa signature(fandango), Discover IT, Citi Forward, Freedom
Bars, clubs, tomfoolery: CSP, Citi Forward, Discover IT, Freedom
Balance transfers: Kroger 123 rewards
Bill Pay: Chase Ink Plus, Citi Forward
Everyday spending: Bofa Accelerated cash rewards amex, Discover Escape

MemberSince99
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Postby MemberSince99 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:46 pm

That is truly great good work!

I can't help but ask though, how did you get a limit of 16k with Discover right off the bat with a 650 score? I ask because mine was over 100 pts higher when I applied and I only got 5.5k I feel cheated!

FutureBillionaire
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Postby FutureBillionaire » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:48 pm

I only have 5k combined between both of my Discover Cards. They were stingy with me because of recent inquiries and amount of available credit.
Gas: Discover It, Penfed Platinum Rewards x2, Chase freedom, Citi TYP
Plane tickets: CSP
Groceries: AMEX BCP, Penfed Platinum Rewards,Citi TYP
Clothes: Express, Amex BCP, Discover IT
Amazon: Citi Forward, Cash +
Restaurants: Citi Forward, Chase Freedom, Discover IT, CSP
Hotels and other travel: Discover Escape, CSP
Movies: BofA travel rewards visa signature(fandango), Discover IT, Citi Forward, Freedom
Bars, clubs, tomfoolery: CSP, Citi Forward, Discover IT, Freedom
Balance transfers: Kroger 123 rewards
Bill Pay: Chase Ink Plus, Citi Forward
Everyday spending: Bofa Accelerated cash rewards amex, Discover Escape

murakami
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Postby murakami » Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:02 pm

Nice story. Thanks for sharing it. Glad you are coming out on top.

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jumbo
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Postby jumbo » Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:04 am

djrez4,
I have followed your steps and sent them a fax last Friday when I got denied for BCE on wednesday. Still haven't heard from Amex, nether email nor mail.
BofA Cash Rewards | CapitalOne QuickSilver | Discover More
Gold Delta AMEX | Citi DoubleCash | Citi Simplicity
Chase Freedom | Kohls Charge Card

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djrez4
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Postby djrez4 » Tue Aug 07, 2012 9:51 am

jumbo wrote:djrez4,
I have followed your steps and sent them a fax last Friday when I got denied for BCE on wednesday. Still haven't heard from Amex, nether email nor mail.


Best of luck! I was surprised about the approval, but I think a combination of income, explaining away the bad marks, and an almost 40-year family history with the company helped.

MemberSince99 wrote:That is truly great good work!

I can't help but ask though, how did you get a limit of 16k with Discover right off the bat with a 650 score? I ask because mine was over 100 pts higher when I applied and I only got 5.5k I feel cheated!


Your guess is as good as mine. I didn't do anything special, other than apply. Credit approvals are one of those great mysteries of the universe that may never be understood.

I did get a letter from the REI Visa people yesterday saying that my Experian score was 682 when they pulled. I don't know which report Discover pulled, however. I haven't pulled any annual reports yet, this year. I was planning on waiting another couple of weeks for all the inquiries to hit before doing a little exploration. As of today, Credit Karma is still showing 0 hard inquiries on my Transunion report.
[RIGHT][size=100]- Sapphire Preferred - Freedom - Ink - Platinum - Everyday Preferred -[/size]

[/RIGHT]



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