Often college students want to know how to boost their credit scores fast for good reason. It helps with refinancing student loans, getting jobs, and being approved for an apartment. All these people check your credit score. While my income may be higher than most college students, you can use the money you get for allowances, investment gains, etc. in your calculation. This should give you a general roadmap for what to apply for when. Using links in the post will give you the best sign-up bonus if there’s available.
- April– Discover Student card. I started with a modest $500 credit limit and reported my annual income at $10,000 with savings of $20,000.
- July– PayPal Credit line. I got a $750 credit line with $10,000 as a reported income and no credit score
- July– Deserve Edu. $800 limit on $10,000 income and still no credit score
- September– Target Redcard. Given their lowest available limit of $300 with a $20,000 income but no credit score
- November– Local Credit Union Card. Run by Elan Financial Services with a limit of $5,000 (which is the smallest they give). I was not instantly approved, so I think a real person looked at my file. Your mileage may vary here. Credit score 732.
- December– Discover Credit Limit Increase to $1800 under $35,000 income. Credit score: 728
- December– Amex Blue Cash Everyday. Limit: $2,000 (again a minimum). Income: $40,000. Credit Score: 698
- December– PayPal CLI to $1,500. Income: $40,000. Credit score: 698. I probably would have qualified for more, but I only requested $1,500.
- December– PayPal Cashback Mastercard. Credit limit of $2000. Credit score: 698
- March– Amex BCE CLI to $6,000. Income: $40,000. Credit score: 745. After two months with Amex, you can usually qualify for a 3x your current credit limit
- April– Credit score: 761
As you can see, my credit score had some drastic changes depending on the time of the month or in-between months. The main reason for this is utilization (the amount you spent but haven’t paid off yet during a statement cycle across all your cards divided by your total limit across all your cards). Sometimes I’d pay off my cards early which would lead to a near 0% utilization and other times, I’d just let auto-pay take care of it. It has a huge impact on your scores, but only for that month. The next month’s score is based on only your current month’s utilization.
By the end of 1 year, my available credit was $17,400 which could come in handy in an emergency. My total money made in signup bonuses was $255 in free cash (doesn’t even include cashback). And my credit score was bordering on the excellent range.
I did not include the applications I made that were rejected as those didn’t help my score out at all. While the first few applications do impact your score quite a bit, the difference between 5 and 15 isn’t much. And they stop having an effect on your score a year after they occur.
Having so many cards helps my credit with utilization, the number of accounts, and positive payment history. Also, getting several cards early in my credit means that my average age of accounts will not be affected much if I decide to get a better card a couple of years down the road. That’s why with responsible use, having several credit cards can be a good idea.