All this talk of me throwing around credit card applications must have people scared that I’m going to completely destroy my credit rating and end up never being able to get a loan for anything ever again. Well, calm down my friends, the situation is not as dire as you may think… in fact it’s quite the opposite.
Now I understand that many people are likely hesitant to jump on the train at full speed like I have. That is quite understandable, and it is probably a good idea to slowly get into this if you plan on it, and tailor it to your travel style. Many of those who talk about this type of reward travel have reached Executive Platinum status, meaning they fly 100,000 paid miles a year… that is a metric ton of flying, and I don’t have that kind of time off from work to make that feasible. So I have adapted this to work for my planned Platinum Status. What I’m ultimately saying is tailor everything to your situation. Only sign up for 2 cards a year, or 4, or none… fit it to your style and how much you travel.
Back to the credit score idea. Conventional wisdom says that too many inquires on your credit history is bad, and it is indeed bad, my credit report reflects that. Credit scores are weighted though, with a small percentage coming from your inquires. So if you let the inquiries be a small negative mark, the credit lines you open actually improve your score since that available credit is a much larger impact on your score. Case in point, my credit score has increased almost 35 points since I started this endeavour. This isn’t an isolated incident either, this is reported by many many different people who dabble in the points game.
The key here is to know your credit score at all times, and there are many companies out there that let you do that now; without counting as pulls against your credit. Here are just a few:
I’m sure there are more out there I’m either forgetting or not aware of. Use these services to track your score. Credit Karma updates weekly, and is my favorite of the lot. Credit.com is useful for tracking the one credit agency that isn’t covered by Credit Karma, but it only updates monthly. Credit Sesame is decent but redundant to Credit Karma which I find to be superior. Then there is Quizzle… just don’t even deal with them. They want payment to give you your score on a regular basis, just not worth it in a world where you can get this data for free.
The idea is to keep up to date on your credit score. If you find something is starting to bring down your score, well then you will see it happening and be able to modify what you are doing. The goal is to get lots and lots of rewards points/miles, but do so without impacting your credit in a bad way. Remember the mantra we already established, pay off your cards every month, no excuses.