First Credit Card, Need Advice From You Pros!

Old Nov 11, 12, 3:02 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Nov 2012
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First Credit Card, Need Advice From You Pros!

Hello

I'm new here but am ready to learn a lot!

My fiance and I are mid 20s college students. Aside from our student loans that we take out every semester (nothing too crazy! Just going to Community College), we have prided ourselves in being debt free. Neither of us have ever had a credit card, and have non-existent credit.

That was until, last January, when we bought a car. We started payments in March, making all 8 payments up until now on time-every time. We purposely took the loan to build credit (Could have paid car in full).

We haven't pulled our credit scores since we got the car, I'm not really sure when it will show up TBH. I'm kinda new to the credit world.

Now since then we have both gone from part time students to full time, we aren't working any longer. Although I might go back to work soon, just because the extra cash is nice to rebuild our savings from the car.

Now with all of this, what are my chances at getting a reward card?

I have my eyes set specifically on an Amtrak points card, I'm not really interested in plane miles. We've been dreaming of taking a train trip to the West coast in one of the upcoming summers.

I'm still very much anti-credit card, but after reading up on here the past 3 hours, I hate the thought of how many free vacations I might have missed out on - just from paying my bills with the card!

And we definitely need a vacation. =(

I'll be ever so grateful for any advice towards our dream trip (hopefully free).
Violy is offline  
Old Nov 11, 12, 9:49 am
  #2  
 
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First Credit Card, Need Advice From You Pros!

I'm a fan of the Starwoods Preferred Guest card, because you earn points that can be used with Starwood properties (Sheraton, Westin, etc) or they can be transferred to other programs, including Amtrak.

My wife and I have gone on entire trips where the airfare and hotel was paid for in full, by using points. And, we earned more points every time we ate out.

We also carry no debt outside of our mortgage. You sound pretty disciplined, so you'll do fine.

For comparison, the Chase Sapphire Preferred gets good reviews, too, but I have no personal experience with it.

Both cards have annual fees, but I am fine with that. Seeing as we would be spending our monthly expenses anyway, the annual fee is basically the cost of our vacation. For us, it's a good deal.
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Old Nov 11, 12, 1:50 pm
  #3  
 
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I'm not sure which cards can transfer points to Amtrak.

Getting a credit card doesn't mean you have to owe money on it. I've had credit cards for almost 40 years and I don't think I've ever paid a penny of interest; I've always paid the bill off when due, or sooner.

The real juice in the credit card game is signup bonuses. Let's say you each spend $500 a month. The signup bonus on a Chase Sapphire Preferred will be equivalent to what you'd get on seven years of spending.

I don't know your credit scores, but getting a new credit card generally dings your score very little, and they do come back. I often say they don't engrave your credit score on your tombstone - in your case I'll say instead they don't put it on your transcript. You can check out a site like CreditKarma for an idea of your score, or go to myfico.com and sign up for the free trial (don't forget to cancel before the trial period is over).

The only problem is that some cards require a minimum spend to get the bonus. For example, CSP requires $3000 in three months. There are some tricks and techniques for meeting that - just as an example, you can charge 6 (or more) months in advance of your wireless and cable bills. Basically, you don't want to get cards faster than you can meet the spend requirement without buying stuff you wouldn't buy otherwise.
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Old Nov 11, 12, 2:52 pm
  #4  
 
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Took out a car loan just for the credit score increase? For mix I guess? You can go ahead and pay the rest off now, the loan will still stay listed on your CR for 10 yrs.
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Old Nov 11, 12, 3:16 pm
  #5  
 
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Originally Posted by Violy View Post
Hello

I'm new here but am ready to learn a lot!

My fiance and I are mid 20s college students. Aside from our student loans that we take out every semester (nothing too crazy! Just going to Community College), we have prided ourselves in being debt free. Neither of us have ever had a credit card, and have non-existent credit.

That was until, last January, when we bought a car. We started payments in March, making all 8 payments up until now on time-every time. We purposely took the loan to build credit (Could have paid car in full).

We haven't pulled our credit scores since we got the car, I'm not really sure when it will show up TBH. I'm kinda new to the credit world.

Now since then we have both gone from part time students to full time, we aren't working any longer. Although I might go back to work soon, just because the extra cash is nice to rebuild our savings from the car.

Now with all of this, what are my chances at getting a reward card?

I have my eyes set specifically on an Amtrak points card, I'm not really interested in plane miles. We've been dreaming of taking a train trip to the West coast in one of the upcoming summers.

I'm still very much anti-credit card, but after reading up on here the past 3 hours, I hate the thought of how many free vacations I might have missed out on - just from paying my bills with the card!

And we definitely need a vacation. =(

I'll be ever so grateful for any advice towards our dream trip (hopefully free).
Normally for new CC users I would recommend the Chase Freedom or the Citi Forward cards. They are aimed at students but anyone can get them. They don't carry any yearly fees and are great credit builders. Also because of no fees you keep them and build years of use(one of the components of a credit score is yrs). Good luck it takes time and good credit scores to get all the goodies out there. I know this doesn't answer your Amtrack question but heads you in the right direction to build a good credit score.
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Old Nov 11, 12, 3:36 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
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Hi,
When i turned 18 i applied for a capital one student card to build credit, i was also approved for a macys (i worked there) so those two got me something. after a year i opened a forward card, which gets great points like on amazon, bookstores, coffee places, restaurants, movie theaters. i think its 5. and if you pay on time every 3 months they lower your apr. (i never carried a balance)

closed my capital since it was worthless and had an annual fee. and now almost 5 years later my credit is almost 800.
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Old Nov 11, 12, 4:00 pm
  #7  
 
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Originally Posted by jjmiller69 View Post
Normally for new CC users I would recommend the Chase Freedom or the Citi Forward cards. They are aimed at students but anyone can get them. They don't carry any yearly fees and are great credit builders. Also because of no fees you keep them and build years of use(one of the components of a credit score is yrs). Good luck it takes time and good credit scores to get all the goodies out there. I know this doesn't answer your Amtrack question but heads you in the right direction to build a good credit score.
+1. You guys need to focus on building your credit since most reward cards require excellent scores and established reports. There's no way Amex or Chase will start you out with a CSP or SPG. What banks will be looking for is revolving debt history (CC's, LOC, etc.). Work on building that for 12 months or so and then you can start to expand your portfolio if this is something you're interested in.
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Old Nov 11, 12, 6:03 pm
  #8  
 
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You might also want to take a look at the US Bank Cash+ card. While it's just a cash back card and does offer points in any program, you can get 5% back in two categories of your choosing (and up to 6-9% with various bonuses). The Frequent Miler has more discussion on that here:

http://boardingarea.com/blogs/freque...s-in-progress/

I have the Chase Freedom and I like it, but without the 10-points per swipe bonus on new accounts I'd say it's not better than the USBank card (unless you also have a CSP and are moving points around).
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Old Nov 11, 12, 6:51 pm
  #9  
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Thanks for the replies so far =)

I certainly want a zero APR card. I plan on just paying my bills/groceries that we already budget out every month, and then repaying it immediately. I don't want it to cost me anything in fees, interest, ect when I'm repaying every time.

I'll read up on Chase Freedom, Citi Forward and US Bank Cash+

I think Chase was the one that offer the Amtrak Card, would it be wise to go with them for my first card since they'll be possibly handling the card I'm after?

Also, should I check my credit report before or after applying to these cards?
Violy is offline  
Old Nov 11, 12, 7:11 pm
  #10  
 
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I'm not sure if you would be in a position to do the US Bank card. Chase might require at least 6+ months of revolving history before you are approved for a card. I would check your credit reports to see how and where the car loan is being reported. Annualcreditreport.com allows you to pull all three once a year for free. The cards you need to target should be student cards, you're in a great position in that you can get halfway decent rewards with more lenient underwriting standards. Take advantage of it.

Also as along as you are planning on paying your bills in full, 0% is not a necessary requirement. You only get charged interest if you carry a balance from one month to the next. Check out creditboards.com for further information on building your credit.

Good luck and welcome to FT!
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Old Nov 11, 12, 7:58 pm
  #11  
 
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You could do the Chase Freedom now, and maybe somewhere down the road add a Chase Sapphire Preferred. Chase Freedom doesn't have as generous as a signup bonus, but has rotating 5x categories that can be converted to UlimateRewards points (with the addition of an UltimateRewards card like Chase Sapphire Preferred.) Add a CSP and then you can transfer your UltimateRewards points to Amtrak.

Right now the CSP is offering 40,000 after meeting minimum spend. Who knows what it will be six months or a year from now, but I think the highest publically available offer for the Amtrak Guest Rewards card is currently 12,000 points. I have seen it for higher, but nowhere near 40,000 -- plus the Amtrak card only offers 2x for Amtrak purchases while the CSP offers 2x on any travel, access to more earnings through the Ultimate Rewards Mall, and the flexibility to use the points for more than Amtrak (cash rebates or transfer to hotel and airline partners.)
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Old Nov 11, 12, 9:10 pm
  #12  
 
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Is the Chase Freedom really a care aimed toward students? I was under the impression it required good credit to get, not new and unestablished credit. I'm looking to get my girlfriend her first credit card as well. We're both 19 year old college students.
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Old Nov 11, 12, 9:32 pm
  #13  
Formerly known as cagalindo
 
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Originally Posted by Apieinthesky View Post
Is the Chase Freedom really a care aimed toward students? I was under the impression it required good credit to get, not new and unestablished credit. I'm looking to get my girlfriend her first credit card as well. We're both 19 year old college students.
A few months ago my SO tried applying for Citi and Discover. She had no previous credit so they denied her even for the easiest to get cards.

She ended up having to go to B&M bank to apply with her parents as 'co-signers'. It has been about 4 months, now she got approved for the Discover student. About 4 months from now she will try to get Citi AA 50k Visa and Amex.

Another 19 year old I know had just one BoA card for 10 months and applied for Citi AA Visa/Amex got approved for both.

Its a long shot getting a first card without co-signer. I think the best strategy for those starting is get co-signed card, then 3 months later get student card, then 3 months (might be pushing it) go for Citi AA that gives 100k using 2-browser trick.

I always apply as self-employed making $30k+/yr. I do some freelance design on the side. Supposedly students get denied more often. I've never had to send in tax return, but if they ask just move on to the next one I guess.

Last edited by caGALINDO; Nov 11, 12 at 9:41 pm
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Old Nov 11, 12, 9:39 pm
  #14  
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Thanks again everyone!

After a few reads I'm finally starting to understand a bit more (especially the abbreviations lol).

So correct me if I'm wrong here. I should do something like this:

1) Pull my credit score
2) Apply for the Chase Freedom Card (if denied I need to get revolving credit somehow for 6 months by going with an easier to get student card)
3) After a while with that card get the Chase Sapphire Preferred when they have a big sign up bonus
4) This will transfer points from both Chase cards to UltimateRewards
5) Convert UltimateRewards to Amtrak points/tickets

Hopefully I got that right Thanks for your patience.
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Old Nov 11, 12, 9:48 pm
  #15  
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Oh one more thing. Did the loan not really help me at all? =/
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