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I will be frank. I really want the Chase Sapphire Preferred visa card. I moved to the States in the beginning of this year and have been trying to build my credit, particularly using the Sapphire Preferred card as my ultimate target.

Right now I have 3 credit cards applied and approved this year as well as 1 rejected application, so total credit inquiry is 4.

My credit score is low 700s per creditkarma.

I always pay my bills ahead of time so my credit utilization is <8%. I have a good level of income but my average credit history is only 5 months. I have no plan to buy a house or a car for the next 2 years so I won't take out loans.

I have 2 questions:

  • What are the best ways for me to increase my credit score to >750?
  • Is it reasonable for me to apply for more credit cards. I know too many inquiries per year can hurt credit but would the net benefit be positive?
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    Why do you want this particular card? Personally, my concern was getting enough credit so I had plenty available if and when I needed it, and getting the best interest rate I could find. Cash back rewards are nice too. Side note: Having two many cards creates the problem that you have to do more work to make sure they all get paid on time. I mostly keep myself to 2 cards that I use regularly, so I don't lose track of what I owe and when it's due. – Jay Sep 8 '16 at 5:38
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    Denial is a strong hint that whatever you are trying to do would be bad for your credit rating. – keshlam Sep 8 '16 at 13:59
  • I echo @Jay - what is special about the Chase Sapphire? It's just a credit card (though it looks cool). And it has a high annual fee. – warren Sep 8 '16 at 16:15
  • @warren It's a rewards card for people who travel a lot: the signup bonus has a $625 value if applied toward travel expenses. Personally, I hate annual fees, even if there are rewards, because it makes me feel like I have to use the card to get the rewards to offset the annual fee. But for borrowers with few lines of credit, with a lot of opportunity to use the card, and who pay their balances on time, the rewards should more than offset the fee. – heropup Sep 8 '16 at 16:29
  • @heropup there are loads of reward cards that have lower and/or zero fees. So why not aim for them? – warren Sep 8 '16 at 16:30
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Simply put, you're applying for too many lines of credit at a time, for the same type of credit, within too short a time period, and without sufficient history. This is not going to help your score and is probably a reason why you were denied. If that denial was the most recent request, it was probably because, from the creditor's perspective, your credit file triggered a possible identity theft or fraud warning.

Put yourself in a creditor's position: you have 5 months average credit history (you haven't specified the oldest account age), and you applied for four cards in the past 8 months alone, had three approved. Why would you need to have more credit extended to you? While you have no derogatory marks or late payments, you also don't have much in the way of a positive record. So you are a something of a question mark, a blank slate, a wild card.

The issue is not whether you have too many inquiries. Although this does decrease your score, it is temporary and has minor impact when you have an established positive history. The issue is that you're trying too hard to bump your score up to achieve a desired goal as quickly as possible, and a credit score is not supposed to be so easily manipulated to reflect your personal goals: it is supposed to reflect your true creditworthiness, and that is how the model is built. Therefore, the proper way to improve your score is to actually become creditworthy. This means establishing a good record over time.

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Your biggest liability now is the short average history of your credit accounts, which can only be cured by time. An average credit age of two years or less is considered poor under the scoring model, from what I've seen. Another factor, less important but still impactful, is the small number of accounts. The problem is that adding more accounts now will further reduce your average credit account age for awhile.

Achieving a credit score of 750 or better is not an easy thing to do and generally comes from a long history of excellent payments and low utilization, plus a wide range of credit types. Nobody can give you precise advice on this because the details of how the Vantage 3.0 credit model operates are a closely-held secret.

You're already using Credit Karma, so I'd suggest looking around their site at the various tools and tutorials they offer for improving your credit.

I hope this helps.

Good luck!

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Items that affect your score;

  • Age of accounts
  • On time payments
  • Amount of credit (which makes no sense to me)
  • Types of accounts
  • Utilization
  • Number of recent hard inquiries

Try getting a personal loan and paying it back over a year. Also avoid applying for another card. It won't help. Most likely it will hurt. They want to see that you use money wisely. Having Revolving credit and an installment loan will boost your score. Variety! Unfortunately opening another account means another hard inquiry, but those fall off pretty fast.

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    Hard inquiries remain on your credit for up to two years. Having credit of a variety of types is a good point too, Jess. – Daniel Anderson Sep 8 '16 at 4:16
  • That's right!! 2 years. I knew it was faster than a derogatory marks but could not recall an time. Thank you! – Jess Sep 8 '16 at 13:40
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Is it reasonable for me to apply for more credit cards. I know too many inquiries per year can hurt credit but would the net benefit be positive?

Because your ultimate goal is the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, opening more than 5 cards in the preceding 24 month period will almost assuredly result in being denied for their card.

This is often referred to as the 5/24 rule. People with really great credit scores often get denied because of this policy that Chase has - if you have opened more than 5 credit cards in the past two years, you get denied. This happens regardless of credit score, income, or other factors.

If your ultimate goal IS the Sapphire Preferred card I would recommend just stopping into a branch office and asking about it. I suspect you could get approved if your score is already low 700s, but talking to them in person would give you better insight.

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