Building Credit And Credit Card FAQs: Your Questions Answered

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This is an article I wrote a few months ago, but people keep asking the same questions, so here it is again:

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Originally posted on 10/08/14:

Do your eyes glaze over every time I make another post about miles and credit cards?
Perhaps you’re young and haven’t gotten involved in credit cards or building up your credit yet, or perhaps you’re just scared of getting involved with credit cards.

If it’s the latter, you have good instincts. The credit card points system is partially subsidized by the millions of Americans who fall into the trap of debt, buying things they can’t afford, and paying huge amounts of interest to the banks.

If you’re susceptible to that behavior, then don’t play the game. Cut up all your cards, pay for things in cash, and be happy not being in debt. Any gain from the points system will be obliterated by interest payments.

Otherwise though you’re leaving valuable cash and miles on the table.
The banks are willing to pay huge sums of money or miles for you to signup for a card and they offer great benefits for using the card.

When you pay with cash or a debit card you get none of that.
You also lose the fringe benefits that many credit cards provide like online dispute resolution, return protection, warranty extension, car rental insurance, trip insurance, etc.

When fraud happens on a credit card you are not responsible for it while it’s being investigated. On a debit card those funds are immediately taken out of your checking account and you have to fight to get them back.

The bottom line is when used responsibly, credit cards are an incredible tool.  I’ve used them responsibly for the past 12 years and thanks to them I have been able to fly around the world in first class on hundreds of flights and stay in 5 star resorts countless times.  The trips I’ve been been able to share with my wife and now with my kids have created indelible memories that we’ll share for a lifetime.

But understand that credit cards can be death traps to those who don’t have proper discipline.

Q: I’ve never had a credit card. How do I start building my credit?
A: Start by having someone in your household or a relative add you as an additional user onto their account. Be sure that the account has been open for a while and is used responsibly. If the card is maxed out it will only hurt you.

After a couple months you should get a nice credit boost from that. You can then start building your own credit history by applying for a store card like from Gap, Kohls, Macy’s, Target, etc. as those can be easier to get approved for than real credit cards. Use the store card for a couple months for a small purchase each month and then you can attempt to get a real credit card.

Still not having any luck? Get a secured card. A secured card functions as a debit card except that unlike a debit card it helps your credit score. A debit card doesn’t help your score at all. Most secured cards don’t offer miles but some like the USBank LAN Secured card at least offers something decent.

Q: How is my credit score calculated?
A: Here is the makeup of your 850 point FICO score according to MyFico:

-Payment History: 35%.
Pay your bills on time and you should ace this category. The more accounts you have that you pay on time, the higher your score will be.

-Amounts owed: 30%
This measures your credit utilization ratio. The more money you spend, the higher your utilization ratio will be, which lowers your score. The more total credit you have available, the lower your utilization ratio will be, which raises your score. So the more accounts and credit you have, the better your score will be here.

Credit utilization ratio applies for each card you have individually (don’t use too much of your credit on any card) and across all of your cards collectively..

-Length of credit history: 15%
This takes into account your oldest account, the older the better. It also factors in the average age of your accounts.
It’s important to note that even if you close an account, it stays on your record for about 10 years after you cancel the card. So even if you close an account, you won’t hurt yourself in this category until 10 years down the line when the account falls off of your credit report. By that point you should have other older cards that will keep your average account age high enough not to adversely affect your score.

-New credit: 10%
This takes into account credit inquiries and new accounts, which can lower your score temporarily. These fall off your report after about 2 years and most banks only look at the number inquiries you have within the past 6 months.

In the short term you may see your score drop when you apply for a card due to this category and the average age of your accounts, but in the long run having more cards will raise your score, as they improve your payment history (35%) and credit utilization (30%) and eventually the age of your account, which continue to grow older even after you cancel the card.

-Types of credit used: 10%
This has little to do with the opening and closing of accounts but factors whether you have other accounts like retail accounts, auto loans, a mortgage, etc. The more varied your portfolio the higher your score.

Q: Isn’t it bad for your score to close a card?
A: I have a FICO in the 800s, among the best scores in the country.  Anything above 750 is basically considered to be a perfect score.  And I’ve closed hundreds of cards.

Understanding how your score works is key here. Again, the 2 primary factors making up 65% of your score are your payment history and the amount of money you owe. So always make sure to protect those.

A credit card continues to benefit the length of your credit history (the 3rd most important factor at 15% of your score) for 10 years after its been closed.

The only negative outcome of closing a card is losing the credit line, which can hurt your credit utilization. That can be avoided in several ways. Many banks allow you to move a line of credit onto a different card. Some banks may be more willing to approve you for another card contingent on moving part of line of credit from an older card onto a newer card. Or they may want to completely close out the older card and move the entire line onto the newer card.

Now you have to strike the right balance between your income and your total credit. You don’t want to have too much total credit. So don’t sweat it if you have to close a card, you can always get another to get your credit line back up to where it was and once again, there won’t be any negative affect from the closing the card.

Note that while you can close a card via secure message or chat without having to call up, typically if you call up, the retentions department may offer to waive the fee for another year or give you miles to keep the card.  Even if they don’t do that, many cards can be downgraded to a free version and you’ll get a refund of the annual fee.  You typically  have between 30 and 60 days from when an annual fee is billed to have it refunded if you close a card though some people have had success getting a fee refunded by cancelling a card for up to 6 months after being billed.

Q: Isn’t it really bad to close your first ever credit card?
A: Perhaps, but probably not.
It’s a good idea to start off with a no-annual fee card as one of your oldest cards so you don’t have to close it.  For example, Chase Freedom is an incredible no-fee card.
If you have one card which is wayyyy older than other cards then you will want to keep it open and that establishes your credit length.
However, if your oldest card is not that much older than the next card, it won’t make a big difference.

Either way it will take 10 years after closing your oldest card until it falls off your report. So even if your oldest card is 2 years older than your next card, in 10 years from now that won’t make a big difference.

Note that AMEX always reports every card you open as being opened in the year that you first got an AMEX card.  So if an AMEX was your first card then don’t sweat it!  Whenever you open a new AMEX card it will be as if that account was open from the date you opened your first ever AMEX card.

Q: Isn’t it bad for your score to open a card?
A: When you apply for a card a credit inquiry or hard pull is done on your report. At just 10% of your score, new credit is one of its smallest factors, so changes here are only worth a few points.  The negative effects of a hard pull lessen after a few months and most banks only care about the number of hard pulls from the past 3 or 6 months. After 2 years they fall off completely.

A new account will also temporarily lower the average age of your accounts, a subset of the 15% of the length of credit history category.  However that card will eventually improve your average age as it continues to help for that even if you close it for 10 years after you close it.

More importantly, when you get a new card, you get a new line of credit. 30% of your score is made up of amounts owed and credit utilization so the more credit you have, the better your score.

So the answer is that in the short-term your score may go down slightly, but longer-term your score will only go up.

Q: I got rejected for a card. Now what?

A: Once you apply for a card they have pulled your report.
So if you are denied be sure to call the bank to try to get approved. It can take several tries, but typically calling or writing via secure message on the bank’s site to reconsideration departments can turn a denial into an approval, especially if you are an existing customer.

Good strategies include:
-Proactively offering to shift credit lines around from other cards to get the new application approved.
-Proactively offering to close an older card you don’t use anymore and move over the credit line to get the new application approved.
-Explaining how you want the benefits the card provides. Items like free baggage and primary car rental insurance are good reasons to want a card, so learn about the unique benefits that each card has to offer besides for a killer signup bonus.
-The banks are afraid of people just applying for credit to rack up debts that they won’t pay. Your job is to explain why you are NOT one of those people and why you want the card.
-Explaining why you might want 2 versions of the same card. HSA spending should often be done on a dedicated card. Different business need different cards to keep expenses separately. Even the same business may want to track spending on different clients on separate cards.
-Explaining how you’ve never had a late payment or that you’re a loyal customer for x amount of years.
-Explaining your loyalty to the bank, especially if you have a checking account with the bank.
-Be friendly! Ask the person how their day is going and they’ll be more likely to want to help you out. Reconsideration reps have all the power, so it’s up to you to become their friend. A DDF user who homebrews beer found out that the agent also makes his own beer. After talking beer strategies the card application was approved!

No luck over the phone or via secure message? If you have at least $10,000 in a Chase checking account your banker can send in a special reconsideration form requesting that you be approved.

Citi is also very good about approving cards if you write to them via snail mail: Mr. Ken Stork,
Office of the President, PO Box 6000, Sioux Falls, SD 57117

Q: Won’t I lose my points if I close a card?
A: Airline or hotel credit cards accumulate points in your airline or hotel loyalty account.
Those points remain there even if the card is no longer active, and are subject to the normal expiration dates that you can find in this post.
You will not instantly lose any earned Hyatt/Starwood/American/BA/Delta/Southwest/United/etc. points just for closing their credit card. Some representatives use scare tactics and say your points or tickets will be lost if you cancel the card but it’s just misinformation.  The only thing you will lose are points earned from spending since your last statement closed, so you may want to wait for your next statement to close before closing a card.

Proprietary credit card point programs (American Express Membership Rewards, Barclaycard Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, Chase Ultimate Rewards) do not expire as long as you keep at least one card open that is enrolled in their respective program.

If you want to close a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card you have several options to keep your points active.
1. Downgrade it to a regular Sapphire card. Your points will remain active but you or your spouse will need to have a card like Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Plus to actually transfer the points into miles.
2. Downgrade it to a Freedom card. Same issue as the Sapphire card has above.
3. Transfer the points to another Chase Ultimate Rewards card that you or your spouse has.
4. Transfer the points to an airline or hotel program.

Q: What do you do about annual fees?
A: On some cards those pay for themselves. Take the Starwood or Everyday Preferred cards where additional cardholders are free.
If you have 5 additional cardholders on either of those cards you’ll get $180 to spend at a small business in November. You can have up to 99 additional cards. And each of those cards are also eligible for other AMEX promotions that run all year long.

On cards from other banks they can be worthwhile for the benefits provided, but you can always cancel a card to get back the annual fee. You typically have 30-60 days to do so once you are billed for the fee. Many cards also allow you to downgrade to a free card to get the fee waived.

Many cards also don’t have a fee for the first year, or even if they do they come with a large signup bonus worth the fee several times over.

In short, they really are not a big deal.

Q: Are there any tricks to raise your credit score quickly?
A: There are a few.
1. Try to pay off your credit card bills before the statement prints. Once it prints the amount owed can severely hurt your score even if you pay it off on time.

You can request that all of your bills print on the 1st of a month so you know exactly when to pay them off.  I try to pay off everything but about $1, so that when I get the bill in the mail I have a $1 amount owed. That shows the card is still being used, but that it’s not being heavily utilized, which improves my score.
Even if it’s too much for you to do this try to at least keep your spending when the statement closes under 15% of the credit limit of your card.
Amounts owed makes up a whopping 30% of your score, so this is a quick and easy way to get a nice bump.

2. 10% of your score is made up by the types of credit you have used. Have cards from multiple banks and have other kinds of loans as well.
For example, even if you can afford to pay for a car in cash you should still finance it. First of all, you can usually get a nice instant rebate by financing and there’s typically no penalty to pay if off early. Second of all, once it’s paid off you’ll get a nice score boost.

3. Use business cards. Amounts owed on business cards from banks like AMEX and Chase aren’t reported on your personal credit report. So even if the statement closes with a large amount owed it won’t hurt your score like that would on a personal account.

Q: I don’t make my own income, how can I get a credit card?
A: As long as you live in the same household as someone who you can rely upon to provide from their income you can include all of that household income when reporting your income on a credit application.
Income isn’t listed on your credit report, it’s based on what you report.  And you should always report total household income as the more income on the application, the greater the odds of approval are.

Q: Why is my credit score different depending on where I check it?
A: There are thousands of sites offering to give you your credit score for free. They advertise heavily but their goal is to get your info with which they can sell ads and sell you other products. Their scores are called FAKOs and are basically meaningless. They look at your report and based on their own criteria make up a score on the spot. No creditor is ever going to use that score.
The only place where a consumer can buy their real FICO credit score is from MyFico. If you’re you’re getting your score elsewhere it’s a fake.  I can also look at your report and make up a score, but that doesn’t mean it has a basis in reality.

You should always keep tabs on all 3 of your reports by using, the only government sanctioned credit report site. If there are mistakes there be sure to dispute them!  If there are hard pulls that shouldn’t be there or that should have fallen off your record by now dispute those as well.  Unfortunately that site only shows your report, it does not give you a credit score.

Checking your own credit report does not hurt your score.

There are 3 credit bureaus, Experian (EX), Equifax (EQ), and Transunion (TU), so you will have a FICO score for all 3. Some banks, like Barclaycard and Discover, allow their cardholders to view one of those scores for free. You can view your FICO Transunion ’08 score if you have a Barclaycard here.

Some cards will mail you your current FICO score after you apply for a card.

To make things more complicated there are different versions of FICO scores based on criteria set in ’98, ’04, or ’08, but that’s getting way beyond the scope of this article.

Q: 3BM? MBM? AOR? What in the world is everyone on DDF talking about?
A: DDF, or the DansDeals Forums is chock full of great info when it comes to credit cards.

In short though, a 3BM means using 3 web browsers, like Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, Maxthon, etc, to apply for 3 different cards from the same bank, as close to each other as possible. An MBM just stands for multiple browser method. Personally I’ll fill out the application form on all 3 browsers and then hit submit on all of them within a few seconds. This way you can get 3 cards with just 1 credit pull. There’s no guarantee you’ll get accepted to all 3 or that you won’t get more pulls, but this increases the odds of getting multiple cards with 1 pull.

Of course it doesn’t have to be 3. I’ve had successful 12BMs. But that was really tough and I don’t advise you to try that at home unless you’re a trained professional 😉

If you’re new though, start with 1 and keep your life simple. It takes time to go from 0 to 60.

An “AOR” or app-o-rama is the process of using multiple 3BMs from multiple banks as quickly as possible, in order to get approved for more cards from more banks. People sometimes stagger their AORs every few months to get more approvals though that’s a tool to stay organized more than a rule to live by.

Note that when applying for a Capital One credit card you will get 3 hard credit pulls every time you apply for a card, making them one of the more hated banks out there.

Q: So Capital One checks all 3 bureaus, but where do the other banks check?
A: It generally varies based on your home state. This DDF thread tried to make sense of the madness.

If you’re in a state where one of your reports is getting hard hit you may want to freeze that report and have a bank check another more seldomly used report to increase the odds of getting approved for a card. More info on freezing from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Note that many banks won’t be willing to check a different report and you may have to try a few times to find a rep from other banks to do it as well.

Q: I want to buy a house, how will credit cards affect my mortgage?
A: Like I said before, opening a card causes a short-term point loss and a long-term point gain.
If you are buying a house within a few months, then take a break from applying for new cards.

Otherwise you shouldn’t have any problem explaining the mileage game to a mortgage officer in case they ask why you have so many lines of credit. In fact if you are using your credit wisely your score should be excellent even if you do open lots of credit cards, which will mean you’ll get the lowest possible interest rates.

Q: Do I qualify for a business card and why do I want one?
A: The benefits of a business card are twofold.
1. Spending on a business isn’t reported on your credit report, so even if you max out your cards and don’t pay them off early it won’t hurt you.
If you don’t pay your bills on time that will hurt you, but otherwise it’s just not reported.
2. When you close a business card it doesn’t affect you as the credit line and the age of the account was never reported either.

For example if your name is Joe Smith and you sell items online, or if you have any other side business/hobby and want a credit card to better keep track of business expenditures you can just open a business credit card for “Joe Smith Sole Proprietorship” or “JS Sole Proprietorship” as the business name.

You don’t need to file any messy government paperwork to be allowed to do that.
Just be sure to select “Sole Proprietorship” as the business type and just use your social security number in the Tax Identification Number field as well as in the social security number field.

If you’re like me and you run more than one business you can signup for multiple of the same card for each business to manage each businesses expenses separately.

Q: Do I want a card that earns miles or a card that earns cash back?
A: Age-old question. It boils down to how you redeem your points.
If you use them for round-trip coach tickets booked in advance then you may do better taking cash back and just buying your flights. Or find a card that allows you to use points for a paid flight.

If you book short-haul coach flights, flights to Canada, flights to Hawaii, one-way coach travel, last-minute coach travel, coach travel with a stopover, business class travel, or first class travel you will be better off with real miles.

Q: What card gives the most bang for the buck?

A: That all depends on what you’re after.

First off, read this article, “Where Should You Be Using Each Of Your Credit Cards?”

But it really depends which points you are trying to accumulate.

I wrote an article on “30 Awesome Things You Can You Do With 75K-95K Ultimate Rewards Points that you can get from opening a single credit card right now. That gives you an idea of how you can be using those points. In the future I’ll make an article like that for other point currencies.

Of course it’s always good to open different kinds of cards to hedge your bets so that you’ll have different kinds of points that can come in handy for different kinds of trips.

-If you want Starpoints: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express Transfer options at a 20K:25K ratio include Alaska, American, ANA, British Airways, Delta, Flying Blue, LAN, Singapore, and USAirways.

-If you want American Express Membership Rewards points: The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express Earn between 1.5-4.5 points per dollar if you use your card 30 times that month. Transfer options include Air Canada, ANA, British Airways, Delta, El Al, Flying Blue, and Singapore.

-If you want American Express Membership Rewards points without an annual fee: The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express. Earn between 1.2-2.4 points per dollar if you use your card 20 times that month.

-If you spend heavily on airfare: American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card

-If you want Chase Ultimate Rewards points from a business card: Chase Ink Plus Transfer options include British Airways, Hyatt, Korean, Singapore, Southwest, and United. Earn up to 5 points per dollar spent and for a limited time, an unprecedented 70K signup bonus.

-If you want Chase Ultimate Rewards points from a business card without an annual fee: Ink Business Cash® Credit Card Earn up to 5 points per dollar spent, but you or a spouse will need a card like Ink Plus or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to transfer points to miles.

-If you want Chase Ultimate Rewards points from a consumer card: Chase Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card® Card Earn up to 3 points per dollar spent.

-If you want Chase Ultimate Rewards points from a consumer card without an annual fee: Chase Freedom Earn up to 5.5 points per dollar spent, but you or a spouse will need a card like Ink Plus or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to transfer points to miles.

-If you want points that can be used towards any paid travel without restrictions: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® Earn 2 miles per dollar plus get 5% back every time you redeem for an effective 2.11% miles back towards all paid travel charged to your card.

-If you want to have airline cards for flight benefits such as waived checked baggage fees, flight discounts, and pre-boarding:
United MileagePlus Explorer card.
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Chase British Airways Visa Signature
Citi AA Mastercard
The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®
The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard®

-If you want lounge access and many other travel benefits and statuses: Platinum Card® from American Express

-If you don’t care about points but would rather have 0% APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers with no fees: Chase Slate

Q: Any last tips?
A: Stay organized!
Make a spreadsheet with a list of all of your cards.
Include the date you applied for card, when you need to complete spending to get the signup bonus, what date of the month that your statement generates so you know when to pay it off early, what the annual fee is on subsequent years, etc.

Also include your mileage accounts, when the miles will expire, etc.

Because it’s very hard to stay ahead of the game if you don’t have a good handle on what you already have.

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139 Comments On "Building Credit And Credit Card FAQs: Your Questions Answered"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.


Awesome article!


Dan, I am kvelling for the chase ink. I’ve tried so many times but they say that they don’t have a long enough business history for me even though I have shapphire and freedom. I want to be Mahlon the trifecta so badly. Those 5 points per dollar from staples gift cards are so gevaldig I need in. Any advice? I tried going to the local branch which wasn’t helpful


Thank you so much Dan!! Chag Sameach


Thank you Dan! Raised my credit over 100 points just by opening more credit cards and paying the rest off before statement closed. Now at 820 with only 8 years of credit history!


WOW! Thanks alot. What would be the best MBM to do now that won’t pull from experian?


@Anonymous: Flirt. Seriously. If you get declined call back reconsideration. then if you get declined again, call back again. Keep shmoozing and eventually someone will let you in. they declined me originally, after shmoozing a bit she said shell recommend me for 4000 credit line and put me on hold. after 3 minutes she said I was approved for 18000.


Excellent article. Solid advice.


Dan, how can i use Visa gift cards to pay my cc bill. Thanks

Dan G

How does applying for a card more than once a year work? I hear people get the same bonus on the same card (for example, chase sapphire) multiple times a year. When you get your miles, you cancel the card, and then apply again? That works with any card (besides Amex)?



If I plan on buying a home in the near future and my credit utilization is about 35% wouldn’t opening another credit card raise my score because it would lower the percentage?


One more noob question you didn’t cover in the article – although I’m sure you covered it somewhere on this website. When adding AU’s on an account, and putting in their social which is required by Amex, is that considered a pull on their account? Is there any way to add an AU without submitting their social. Thank you for the very informative article.


I made a mistake and applied for the wrong card, Blue Cash Everyday. I wanted the OBC and applied for that OBC right after realizing my mistake (~2BM with few hours delay). I only got BCE since they are considered being the same product. What do you recommend (I have no used for BCE)? Cancelling BCE and wait for X-days and then apply for OBC? Or do you recommend applying for OBC while still having BCE? Also how frequently can you successfully apply for AMEX cards?


just got declined for ink card, my credit score is 740, I’ve had cards with chase for 18 months but they said that was insufficient time 🙁


Thanks for the awesome post!
I was under the impression that to keep good credit utilization I would have to close out the card and at the same time move the CL over to another account. As you just wrote here, it sounds like you can close out the card while losing the CL and a few days later open a new account and hope that they give the same amount of credit (or more). Doing the latter will have the same advantage as the former. Correct?



What do you hear from people trying to waive the annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Preferred? Any luck there?


Dan, is FICO score from discover a good/real one?


I think the #1 thing people need to understand is:

If you are not an organized individual, do not touch. This is not for you

Joshua D

As Chapnells said, stay away if you’re disorganized and definitely don’t think you can be like Dan and mimic his expert tactics. Do this at your own pace…there’s nothing wrong with getting 4 cards annually, you don’t have go overboard and try for 50+ and screw up yourself. Do what’s comfortable and sensical



HUCA some more?
It’s all up to the rep’s discretion.


Barclays should be TU is most states.

Well done.


Serve with Softcard.

@Dan G:
Depends on the bank and the card.
If you’re approved for a Sapphire or Ink you’ll get the bonus.

It should.

It’s not a hard pull.
You should be able to add over the phone without a SSN by saying you don’t have it handy.

You can apply for OBC while still having BCE.
Worst case is the recon rep will close one to approve the other.

Ink can be tough. But the rewards make it worth the wait.
Can always try some HUCA.


Why not just downgrade it?

It’s real.

@Joshua D:
Being organized is one of the first things I say at my seminars.

I’ve added another paragraph at the end of this post for you guys!


Dan I am impressed
You can publish text books
Thanks a lot


Thank you Dan! Such an awesome post. Went to your seminar and still this was very helpful!

Do you have a template spreadsheet that you can share?


Hey Dan,
I have a capital one cc and when I log in on my phone it gives me a free fico credit report which includes how many cards I have from which banks they are and how much my total credit limit is. All the info about all my cards are correct. Is the fico score they give me also correct, or as u stated in this article that they are all fake…?


Dan –

My wife doesn’t have SSN. She has ITIN. She got rejected for Chase freedom. But she opened a CC with a local bank. It’s been > 3 months. Can she apply for Amex blue and Freedom again?

And she can’t check FAKO score on sites like creditkarma or sesame because they ask for SSN. Owning Bluebird or Serve is out of question now. Any Thoughts?


The book of miles 😀

There is a template on DDF, don’t have it handy right now.

If it’s this it’s clearly FAKO,

Maybe keep building via a store card or discover card first.


Hi Dan, Thanks for the great post! Is it possible though to make what shows on the home screen shorter and click to expand. It is so long that it took way to much strolling to get to the next items.



I just got a hyatt visa few days ago. Could I apply for ink plus now? Also is it possible to get instant approvals for this?


every bank allows business cards with SSN and Sole Proprietor?


Can you explain on the quotation below, Why don’t I want to have too much total credit(did you mean credit Line)? and what does income have to do with my credit?

“Now you have to strike the right balance between your income and your total credit. You don’t want to have too much total credit”.


i am 18 years old with $750 credit line discover card for 6 months how much longer do i wait to get new card and what card should i get? thanks



Thanks for the response earlier. I like the perks of csp and the card but don’t like the annual fee after the first year..


Two questions. Does capital one business not report to my credit score like amex?

How do I transfer my wife sapphire pionts (she downgraded to the non yearly charge one) I still have the preferred card?


Does opening a business line of credit help your score (better credit utilization ratio)? Or, just like it doesn’t hurt you when you close, it doesn’t help you when you open it.


Capital one does report busniess credit cards on your report



Your posts are amazing, especially the guides like this one, or the recent post about using the amazon swipe plug-in at staples with the Ink Plus.
In this post you talk about how if you already have debt you should just cover it and forget about earning miles. I’m currently a full-time student with debt in the form of loans. I was wondering if you think it would make sense to start racking up points and possibly selling them, or if that would just be useless until I pay it all back.

Yossi S

Dan, It’s hard to believe somebody can be so informative I’m just trying to get in, there’s just so much info here it’s amazing! Keep up the great work! What would be the best option for flights to London, should I use points, and witch card should I try to get points from, or should I just go for cash back and take it from there? For short-haul and to TLV flights it looks like you explain on Gold-Platter, but I don’t seem to figure out what to do for flights to London. Thanks Dan, And keep up the great work!


hey dan I’m looking to go to Israel in January and was hoping you can steer me in the right direction in opening up a card, different ways in getting the points, maintaining the points, and canceling the card. any response would be greatly appreciated, thanks dan!

chaim g

I’m maxed on all my cards so my score has gone down. If I try paying up ,since I have a lower score now they go ahead and lower my limit in affect keeping me maxed out no matter how much I pay up.any suggestions


I have no credit..I applied for a chase freedom and got rejected..what should I do? Which card can I apply that’s easier to get approved? And how long do I have to wait so I can apply for another card?


@Joe: capital one secure credit card wait about 6 months


@yesitsme: Thats my opinion it has a annual fee less than $30

Ari L

@Joe: I would look into Discover Secure card. There is no annual fee and you can earn cash back rewards. It is also a good way to track your FICO score since you get that on your monthly statement. Good luck


Dan, you’re doing a great job. Thanks!!!!!

I got a question, I lived in NY for a few years and have SSN.
I moved to Israel 2 years ago and now I decided that I want to repair my score and apply for good CC.
I still have a chase back account with few thousand $$.
How should I start the process of getting a card?
To ask a relative to add me as an additional user onto their account?
To transfer money to my bank every month and pay off the CC from there?
I really don’t know where to begin?!?
Also, When will you come to |Israel to give a seminar, I know ALOT of people are looking forward for that…


Please help with the question above..



I am new at credit cards, was an additonal user till now and bh earned a good credit score (fico 750). Want to apply for the chase freedom which has an offer for $200 ending tonight (so my first card is without anual fee), wondering how many i can do at same time so its considered one pull? Can i use 3 browsers plus my phone to get 4 chase cards at same time? (Was thinking of freedom just cuz theres no annual fee, so its good as my first, plus British Avios, Sapphire and Ink plus for the combined mileage benefits )…. (i will prob cancel them after a year to avoid the fee, but may as well apply in one pull…for the mileage earned)

Eliezer Shulman

@mm: If you don’t have any credit card accounts of your own yet then it’s highly unlikely you’ll get accepted to anything from Chase (unless maybe if you have $10,000+ with them in a bank account). You would be much better off applying for a couple of store cards (and student cards If you’re a student) and build credit from there. After maybe 6 months of good credit history you should be able to get the Freedom.


thanks for all your great work! does closing a checkings account effect your credit?




can i get the amex starwood bonus if i got it already?

Aharon B.

Awesome post, thank you so much!
I’m a grad student (read: no real income for the next 18 months) and was added as AU on an AMEX SPG 6 months ago. I didn’t have CC before that.
Still, when I check my credit score on creditKaram I get the “thin file” notification.
How should I move from here to be approved for a CC and boost my score? Is a secured card the only way?


dan what’s the best way to gain American airline points. I have an aa and spg card. But I’m looking to gain more aa points quickly. I’ve already applied for a Barclay card for usairways



@dan. Thnx 4 the post! slightly off topic,was wondering if closing a debit card effects ur credit score?(only opened it for the bonus…and it has monthly fees…)


well written , and accurate! keep up the gr8 work !!

mendy from lakewood

Experian now shows 2 scores 1-fico score 2- EXPERIAN score. My fico score is 650 while my experian score is 712…can you explain the difference?


@shuki: only for the business card, not the personal

dov bennish

how about the us card.alaska card.southwest has a 50k signup bonus

Ed Travel

That is a great article, Dan thanks for sharing. I have a few questions.
1-What about 0% Apr card? How much % of the credit card should I “load” those cards that I plan to pay in full by the end of the APR period or should I pay in higher chunks?
2-I have some credit cards that I don’t use at all but they are just sitting there, should I use them every month?
3-Last question, in your estimation how many days before the statement comes out is a safe number of days to pay my credit card in full.


Great article Dan! Just one question:

When the credit card asks for household income, I should put not just my income, but an income total of everyone in the house??


My daughter (student) got a visa card approved from a bank she has her account in.
Now she will be making aliya and wants a card that has 0$ for foreign transaction fees. I am familiar with the different cards. Which is the best one for a student to apply for?


Thanks Dan for a very informative post!!
I am an additional credit card holder – on s/o’s account who’s had a solid credit history for a looonnggg time. However when I called recons after getting declined for a cc, they told me being an additional cc holder shows n/t about how I use my credit. Additionally, it has not improved my credit score. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Is it true that being an additional cc holder doesnt really help much??


Dan, great post!
How do u feel about AMEX cash back cards? Are any worthwhile?

yeshivish guy

know of many people that got approved for chase cc (chase will usually tell you there not first time lenders) just by having a bank account for short while P.S. check out for chase offers i got hundred dollars a while ago just for opening an account and keeping
1500+ dollars.


What is your opinion on credit monitoring services? Which ones out there are the best value?


What abt people with no SSN but just ITIN and who are stay at home spouse? Recently Discover said they won’t accept ITIN applns anymore…


I am pretty new to the game, about a year, and doing very well thanks to you and DDF! I did an AOR a few months ago and want to do another in a few months. Would it better to close a few cards from my previous AOR before my new one?


i have an account with capital one. if i have my card on auto pay-which pays on my due date, will it ruin my credit? Also, I have 3000 dollar credit per month. whats considered spending too much?


“-Amounts owed: 30%
This measures your credit utilization ratio. The more money you spend, the higher your utilization ratio will be, which lowers your score. The more total credit you have available, the lower your utilization ratio will be, which raises your score. So the more accounts and credit you have, the better your score will be here.
Credit utilization ratio applies for each card you have individually (don’t use too much of your credit on any card) and across all of your cards collectively..”

how does a amex platinum affect this being that it has no preset spending limit?

yeshivish guy

@creditpump: it does help you credit score and credit age (also part of score ) but alot of credit cards are not first time lenders check out my post above


Hey Dan
You said that all the free credit scores that ppl get are not real is that true for capital one .
They provide me a score 1x a month.


Dan I was a secondary card holder for a few years but I still got rejected from the discover it card, so I got the gap store card. how long do u think I should wait before applying for a real card and which is the best?


I got denied for a Chase freedom a couple of weeks ago (my first application after making myself an authorized user not much b4 that) and I called for a reconsideration and they told me I would have to send a request via snail mail to PO box… (I don’t have a Chase account). Is that my only option or should I try again and maybe I’ll have better luck?


I actually applied for the Freedom as opposed to a store card because of the $0 annual fee and cuz they were offering double the bonus at that time.


Hi Dan, thanks for the great info, as usual. I can’t find the regular One vanilla gift cards sold at 7Eleven anymore. Instead they have the prepaid cards My one vanilla. Can you load money on serve with that at FD or Walmart?


“You should always keep tabs on all 3 of your reports by using, the only government sanctioned credit report site.”

How often can you check each bureu on this site (it seems like theres a limit)?

Thank you very much!


If one waits until January (now) and can see the 15 nights in one’s Marriott account due to the Chase Marriott, is one in danger of forfeiting the 15 nights for 2015 if one cancels the card?


Hi dan thank you!
Any option to open a business card without have business I’d? I keep get from Amex offer for the gold business card but I ever had any business
Thanks @dan


which credit card is the best for tickets to disney?



Though Discover and Barclay scores are FICO.

A few months.
Maybe Freedom or AMEX Everyday or Starwood?

Why not snail me it?
Can always call again.

You can actually get cash out of those at a bank.

Once per year for each one.

But whenever you’re denied credit you can get them again.


Read this post.

Buy the tickets from a travel agency and use Sapphire Preferred.


Have them do it.
You can always dispute the extra hard pull afterward with Experian.


Hi Dan, I applied last week for the spg card and they didn’t approve me, I called them up to reconsider, so they said they can review it but it will be another hard pull, is there a way they should reconsider without doing another hard pull?


@Dan: is it hard to dispute?




@Dan: thanks, I’m sure you already wrote somewhere about disputing, would u mind posting the link, and also is there a specific number i should call for reconsideration? Tnx

Tom Brady

@Yisroel: No need to waste your time writing to them, as getting a chase card without your own credit history is highly unlikely. Apply for the Gap card (also no annual fee) and after a few months of a little spending on that, try for a real card.
Also if you want a non store card now and are a student, the Citi Thank You student card can be easy to get.

Tom Brady

My bad. Dan answered you while I was writing.

Tom Brady

@Dan: I’m curious to know Dan, do you know of people who got accepted for the Freedom card recently without prior credit of their own? Before I had my own credit, I couldn’t get the Freedom no matter how many times I would HUCA even though I had been an AU on a Chase card for over a year. So now I have been advising my friends or anyone, to first go for a student and/or a store card before applying for a different card (like what worked for me). So would you say that in giving bad advice because there is in fact a decent chance of getting a Freedom (or SPG) without credit, or not?

new one

Is Discover a card someone should apply when starting out? I heard it is easy to get.


@Dan: I’m an additional cc holder on Chase Freedom. Chase claims they are no longer allowed to take ss #s of additional users (even though I practically begged them to take it)They claim it will show up on my credit report regardless -(which it has not!)


…also wondering which would be a better option to build up credit – gap card or secure cc??


@Dan – What do you think of Discover? You said above no great loss.

It’s seems like a solid starter card. You can apply with a joint (gets reported to both). Free FICO credit score along with typical secondary car insurance/extended warranty/etc. 1% cash 5% bonuses similar to Chase Freedom.

Is your reason for not being a fan simply because it’s not much more than cash back or do you have any other two cents you can add to this?

Thank you.


Just call Experian.
Call the same number you called before?

@Tom Brady:
Helps to have a store card first.
Definitely YMMV.

@new one:
You can. Once you have a store card though you shouldn’t need that.

Are you located at the same address as the primary?

Gap is free.

It is solid.
Main drawback is the lack of a good signup bonus.
And the 1%/5% is not at all like Freedom as Freedom points can become miles. Discover points can’t


I am an additional on two peoples cards but I have never given my social. They both dont have great credit and they both dont pay their bills on time. Will this effect my credit?


Any store card that doesn’t charge a annual fee?


@Dan: what should I tell Experian, why should they remove it?


Hi, Dan.
Can you clarify the timing of when you like to pay your credit card bills? You said:
1. Try to pay off your credit card bills before the statement prints. Once it prints the amount owed can severely hurt your score even if you pay it off on time.

“You can request that all of your bills print on the 1st of a month so you know exactly when to pay them off. I try to pay off everything but about $1, so that when I get the bill in the mail I have a $1 amount owed. That shows the card is still being used, but that it’s not being heavily utilized, which improves my score.
Even if it’s too much for you to do this try to at least keep your spending when the statement closes under 15% of the credit limit of your card.
Amounts owed makes up a whopping 30% of your score, so this is a quick and easy way to get a nice bump.”

You say “bills print on the 1st of the month”. Is “bills print” the same thing as the “closing date”?
And do you then submit payment (in the amount of “statement balance minus $1.00”) on the 1st, or the 2nd, or something else?

And then do you submit a second payment of $1.00 on (or day before) the payment due date? Seems to me you would have to do this second payment, else you would have a finance charge, albeit very small.

Thanks in advance for clarifying.
Finally, after leavi


I have AC voucher. what warm place does AC fly to from NY for a reasonable cost?


Dan, I get the feeling that chase does not pull a hard credit on you if you already have 1 or 2 cards with them. Any truth to that? So too, it is a very interesting point you made by clarifying that it is better to pay before the statement was printed. I always thought that if you never had a payment due, it will not add to your “On time payment” status.


Historically, when I have moved credit lines (with Chase) from one card to another, they allow all but $1000 or so (roughly 10% of the CL).
1) Is that a big deal?
2) Should I fight for more?

Liam Knuj

What card is best for my son to use to withdraw money from ATMs in Israel? (Can’t be a traditional credit card. Can be a debit, pre-paid, or secured card.)

credit pump

@Dan: Nope, we’re at diff. addresses.


@Yisroel: gap


@sarah: check your credit report to see if it’s being reported ( is free and accurate.)


“Q: I’ve never had a credit card. How do I start building my credit?
A: Start by having someone in your household or a relative add you as an additional user onto their account”
does it have to be a relative or can it be a friend?
can i add myself with my ss # to a business card?
will that help build up my credit..?

chassidishe guy

what credit score is safe to start applying for a good card like chase. my score is 715. what number should i wait for it to reach?


Hi Dan,

If one has a credit card thats almost maxed out, and pays on time and the minimum every month, and another credit card which he pays on time in full every month with an authorized user, is the authorized user’s credit score and/or report negatively affected by the first card of the primary user?


hi dan
what do you mean by not maxing out your credit my credit line is 3000 lets say if i almost use it up but make sure to pay almost the whole thing b4 my statement comes like you said is that called maxing out my credit? thanks


Hi Dan! Most informative post ever, I am finally starting to understand cc somewhat. I live in Israel. I would like a good cc for someone abroad.Many charge a transaction. Any suggestions?


@Broc: Discover it has no foreign fees ever and no annual fee. Many chase cards as well but they have annual fee.


Not sure about other banks but chase debit now has a bunch of benefits like points and for fraud you’re refunded straight away


can u set a limit to how much u spend on a card
if not what cards can u


@Achshell: Thanks! Is there a specific discover card that is better? (I have a CHase that charges a transaction fee. Capitol one does not, but it hardly gives me points or cash back, so I gain nothing from it.)


@mm: What kind of points does the Chase debit card offer?


A/o know if I have a credit score in the low 600’s, will I get approved for a gap card-(preferable for me) or should I be safe and first go for a secure card?


Dan, if my statement closes on the 16th, would that be the date it’s reported to the bureaus?


I signed up for amex offer and was not rewarded signup bonus. Rep told me it’s because I had this offer previously. Is there any way for me to get it honored?


Thanks Dan, was wondering if you can please elaborate on how to get my bill “printed” on the first of every month (or any other specific date). It would be easier to track if I somehow had all my cards close on the same date (or two different dates). Thanks for everything.


if I was denied a card and called to try and push it through (it worked on the 2nd try)they pulled my fico score a 2nd time from Transunion, can I fight to get that off my credit score being that they did it by initial application


@jack122: @jack122: would love to know the answer to that too


Do you have any suggestions how to spend all the money on the cards to get sign up bonuses?


Thnx, it was very helpful


@dan your article says that starwood points are transferable to american airlines. however, on the amex website american airlines is not listed as one of the “transferrable airlines”. please advise.


Starwood points are not AMEX MR points.


@dan thnx. didn’t notice i was looking at the MR page.
where can i see the starwood page?


Dan,thx appreciate the article.Quick question though.Does capital one report amounts owed on bsns cards to show up on credit report or is it only amex and chase?


Dam – What’s going on with Costco, Citibank and Visa? Is there a play here?


Of course that should have said ‘Dan’


Dan, would you care to share some details on how to do a successful MBM app with the Alaska Air CC?

Several mos ago, I was able to get approved for 2 Alaska air CCs at same time with 2 BM using both IE and FF. Today, assisted relative opening first B of A account, and tried for a 6BM using those as well as Opera, Maxthon, Safari, Chrome. Only got instant approval with Safari. All the rest went to pending.

What are the techniques to have success with more than 2 BM? Private mode in browsers? Different PCs? Different IPs for each app? Special techniques?



If I had a Starwoods Amex and I closed it 2 years ago can I get the signup bonus again or at least the first year free?


@dan, what does amex need in order to approve
A biz card? Thank you


-Amounts owed: 30% – Does this mean only amounts owed on statement, or amount spend on the card in general? So if I max out my cards but always pay them off (mostly or completely) before the statement prints, are the amounts spent also taken into account?


hi dan, im turning 18 in a monthand id like to get into the CC business, carefully. do you think id get approved for the amex everyday card WITHOUT first doing some credit buildup?


@ariel: Like Dan has the time to respond to comments on year-old posts.


Will applying for a business card show up as a hit on my credit? I’m applying for a mortgage and I don’t want it to reflect as increasing debt on my credit report.


Amazing article thank you Dan


dan this article is simply amazing however in my humble opinion it should be updated and re-tweeted out for the benefit of everyone
again thanx so much for all the deals all these years


Hi Dan thx we love you!


Hi, Dan. This was a lot to digest but I’m trying. Would you be able to share a template of the spreadsheet you refer to in the last Q&A? That would be super helpful. Email an xls or post a link to a google sheet?


@Ayelet: Would you be able to share a template of the spreadsheet you refer to in the last Q&A? That would be super helpful. Email an xls or post a link to a google sheet?


Hi Dan,
I roll my eyes every time because I have excellent credit with huge limits.
However I cannot get these bonuses because I am Canadian, and no credit in the USA.
How can I start getting credit in the USA


@Dan: Is this up to date for March 2017?