Million Mile Madness: Credit scores and pulls

34

927,000 points earned. 73,000 left to go.

Background: Million Mile Madness is the fun and foolish quest to earn a million points in one month. Throughout March, I’m doing everything I can to earn as many points as I can while keeping within my ethical boundaries. I don’t expect that a million points will have been credited to my account by March 31st: points often take quite a while to get credited. Instead, I’ll track all of the points that I expect, and I’ll declare victory if the expected total is over a million. To keep things challenging, I will try to keep my net costs below $1,000.

All points earned and expenses incurred are tracked via this Google Docs spreadsheet. See all Million Mile Madness posts (in reverse order), by clicking here.

Background

At the start of this month, I applied for 11 new credit cards and was approved for 10 of them.  Many people wondered what this stunt would do to my credit scores.  Others wanted more specific information: how many hard pulls were triggered?  When I applied for multiple cards from one bank, did the hard pulls get combined into one?  How many hard pulls were on my report prior to this month?  This post will answer all of those questions.

You can read about the cards I applied for in this post: “Million Mile Madness: The big churn story.”  Keep in mind that I do not recommend this as a credit card churning strategy.  I did a massive churn because of my Million Mile Madness challenge.  Normally, it makes better sense to proceed slowly and cautiously (see “Credit card churn planning“).

My prior scores and inquiries

As I reported in the post “Million Mile Madness Begins!,” I started the month with excellent credit scores (as reported by Equifax credit monitoring):

image_thumb[8]

And, my credit report shows the following counts of prior hard-pulls:

Bureau

Credit Inquiries
0 to 6 Months Old

Credit Inquiries
6 to 12 Months Old

Credit Inquiries
1 to 2 Years Old

Equifax 2
(Chase, Discover)
1
(AT&T)
1
(BOA)
Experian 2
(Citi, Amex)
1
(Citi)
7
(Amex X 4, Citi, BOA)
TransUnion 2
(US Bank, Chase)
3
(Barclaycard, Chase X 2)
2
(Chase X 2)
Total 6 5 10

My new scores and pulls

As of Tuesday, March 26th, Mint Credit Monitor reported my credit scores as follows:

image

As you can see, my scores are still quite good, but they definitely dropped lower, as expected.  My Equifax score dropped a whopping 51 points.  Experian dropped 22 points.  And, TransUnion dropped 26 points.  The biggest reason for the drop in scores is (most likely) the large number of new hard inquiries on my credit report.  In time, the effect of hard inquires will decrease.  If history is any guide, my scores will rebound to prior levels (or higher) in about three months.

Early in the month, the credit monitoring services I use reported 5 new Experian inquiries and 6 new TransUnion inquiries.  I had hoped that the bureaus would combine those pulls in cases where I applied more than once to the same bank.  And, in fact, that did happen with some of my TransUnion inquiries, but not with any of my Experian inquiries.  Here is a table with the results:

Bureau

March 1, Initial Inquiries

Inquiries on my credit report
(from March)

Equifax 0 0
Experian 5
(Amex, Barclaycard, Chase, Citi X 2)
5
(Amex, Barclaycard, Chase, Citi X 2)
TransUnion 6
(Chase X 2, Barclaycard X 2, US Bank X 2)
4
(Chase X 2, Barclaycard, US Bank)
Total 11 9

As you can see, the strategy of applying for multiple cards from the same banks had very little positive impact on the final number of hard inquiries that were generated.  The only consolidation that happened was with TransUnion, where two Barclaycard pulls and two US Banks pulls were reduced to one each.

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