Million Mile Madness: Credit scores and pulls

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.

Learn about Million Mile Madness:

Last updated on November 13th, 2015

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Tom Thompson
Guest
Tom Thompson

How has your experience been with Mint Monitoring?

I’ve been looking for that type of service and have not found the right mix of price/services.
They seem to have real FICO scores not FAKO and $17/month maybe the cheapest I’ve seen.
Appreciate your input.
Thanks

FrequentMiler
Guest

Tom/Larry: I signed up for the Equifax monitoring trial before the month started, then I cancelled before the fee came due. Then I signed up for Mint credit monitoring to get an “after” look at my 3 scores. I haven’t used either service enough to evaluate them. Truthfully, I’m perfectly happy with the free combination of Credit Karma and Credit Sesame, but for the purpose of MMM it was useful to get all three scores at once.

traveller: Sorry if the post wasn’t clear about that. Both Club Carlson applications triggered TransUnion inquiries, but TransUnion combined them into one inquiry after the fact.

Larry Ordway
Guest
Larry Ordway

Same question as Tom. I’ve been wondering if I need to use something other than Credit Karma for monitoring.

Tom Thompson
Guest
Tom Thompson

I signed up for Credit Karma after my recent (6 months) Re-fi during which I got a copy of my score which was pulled by the CU.
CK’s FAKO scores were 30-40 points lower then my real FICO score and they push so many poor/awful deals (I know it’s free and they have to make money but secured card recommendations? c’mon man!) on the site that it scares me if I didn’t know any better that I might sign up for some of those bad deals.

I was thinking about signing up for Credit Seasame but I fear it’s the same almost useless “dart board” technology.

traveller
Guest
traveller

Was it trans union for the us club Carlson biz card pull?

Larry Ordway
Guest
Larry Ordway

Tom, Credit Seasame is not as good as Credit Karma. It only updates once a month and pushes even more unrealistic offers to you.

Sil
Guest
Sil

when i applied for the citi biz and personal the same day, i received experian and equifax pull from EACH one of the card…Ugh!!

Gene
Guest
Gene

Why no Equifax pulls? Did you freeze your Equifax account?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Gene: No, it just happened that way

DaninSTL
Guest
DaninSTL

So I assume the pulls and credit lines, etc have all hit already? Seems quick as it normally takes a billing cycle or 30 ish days to see the full impact in my experiences.
If FICO had special rules for churners it would increase your score due to diligent credit use and management in reality. 🙂

Winner
Guest
Winner

Each FAKO scoring model is different. If you really want to know the net effect on your FAKO, you should have used the same monitoring service to evaluate the score per and post spree.

FrequentMiler
Guest

DaninSTL: Yes, I believe they have all hit already, but I could be wrong.
Winner: Yes, very true. I was too cheap to pay Equifax :). I see this more as an approximation of my scores and the hit taken.

Travel Splash
Guest
Travel Splash

The inquiries hit immediately. The impact from new accounts is not until after the first statements are generated and reported to the bureaus. The best credit monitoring service is Citi Identity Monitor for $4.95 a month at http://www.identitymonitor.citi.com. You get FICO scores and credit reports once a month from all three bureaus. I still use Credit Karma to check scores during the month.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Travel Splash: Thanks for the Citi Identity Monitor suggestion. I might give that a try. I’ll also report an update on my scores next month.

Winner
Guest
Winner

Travel splash: the scores receive from citi are FAKO not Real FICO

“As a member, you can then check the credit report and score every month for updates. The scores you receive with IdentityMonitor® are provided to help you understand your credit and are not the same scores used by lenders to evaluate your credit.”

It cost 12.95 a month not 4.95 and you can only pull once a month.
Why would you do that when you can get same FAKO score thru USAA for the same price but instead of 1 pull a month, you get 1 pull a day.

Scott
Guest
Scott

Clearly, comparing two different FAKO scores won’t tell us much about the effect, as the difference could be entirely from the different formulas. For instance, your equifax score shouldn’t have changed at all.

Scott
Guest
Scott

Btw, just last month, experience combined two amex pulls for me for the prg and spg personal cards. I’m having issues, because where I live, every bank uses experience except barcalys. I’ve got 7 pulls in the last year with very little churning. I’m not sure how to get around this.

DFW
Guest
DFW

Really meaningless scores, even if intended to show impact only. Scores are bound to go down after apping and FAKOs penalize more for inqs. I think many new CCs have not even started reporting yet? That will impact the scores even more but FICOs are what matters anyways.

At least it gives you the hard pull details, which again can be found in other ways.

I see you actively partake in EQ B*. Time to TU B* as well.

Steve
Guest
Steve

So you have ZERO hard inquiries on equifax, but your score dropped 51 points?

That is counter to your statement ” The biggest reason for the drop in scores is (most likely) the large number of new hard inquiries on my credit report. ”

Something else happened to make your equifax score drop so much. Any idea why?

Jaguar
Guest
Jaguar

You are comparing apples and oranges here. I am sorry to as this, but this test is very inconclusive and in fact causes more confusion. If you really want thus to be accurate, you should get the real FICO scores. For all that you know, the fake scores might have been the same even before your AOR.

Travel Splash
Guest
Travel Splash

Winner: I believe the Citi scores are FICO and not FAKO. It is regularly priced at $12.95 but here is the link to the $4.95 offer http://www.identitymonitor.citi.com/index.aspx

RomsdeAls
Guest

Almost all scores are FAKO. Fico is only from myfico.com or lenders.

Jay
Guest
Jay

@travel Splash: Still shows $12.95.

I tried using Credit Secure from Amex. $1 for the first trial month. and then got offered $11/month if I prepaid for the entire year.
You can pull the 3-bureau report twice a month. Haven’t taken the offer yet…

I did have experian (through experian.com) last year…$1 for the first trial week and then got offered a $7/month deal, which I took. You can pull EX as many times as you want and get the 3-bureau report for free once a month.

rick
Guest
rick

You will get more drop in credit score when these new cards show up on your account because it decreases the average age history of your total accounts as well new accounts make you a more risky customer because you are seeking credit, your score will bounce back in 3-6 months.

Ryan K
Guest
Ryan K

@Travel Splash
Citi Identity Monitor is 100% FAKO

Walt K
Guest
Walt K

As others have said, Citi Identity Monitor is definitely FAKO. The easiest tip off that something is FAKO is the fact that it is offering you an Experian score. Almost no one offers an Experian FICO to consumers. You’d need a lender pull, or the only other way I know to get it is if you are able to join PSECU.

Walt K
Guest
Walt K

Those wondering why the EQ score dropped, there are likely two things going on. As others have pointed out, there may be two different FAKO algorithms being compared, so the score may not have changed that much. Second, even if all accounts haven’t reported, at least some likely have. So the score would have dropped some from new accounts.

Travel Splash
Guest
Travel Splash

Thanks for clarifying on Citi Identity Monitor being FAKO. Here is the $4.95 link if anybody is still interested in it. http://www.identitymonitor.citi.com/index.aspx?source=IMN00291
Sorry, the previous two attempts at getting you the correct link did not work. This time I tried it in 3 different browser and am more certain that it will work.

DFW
Guest
DFW

@Walt K, there are couple of other CUs that provide EX scores, but I think the one based out of Colorado provides it once per quarter and not every month.

Samuel
Guest
Samuel

@Steve: It’s not just inquires that lowers your credit score. The presence of new accounts and the drop in average age of accounts also has a large effect.

PaulX
Guest
PaulX

I have 12 hard pulls on Equifax in the past 2 years, mostly from Chase. Should I forget applying for new cards for awhile? Thanks for any advice.

chemist661
Guest
chemist661

The best source for credit scores are either from a lender and/or myFICO.com. myFICO does not give Experian scores. A few lenders give decent FICO estimates but they are off a little.

I refinanced all 3 rental houses in June 2012 and my FICO’s (from the bank) were 797, 804, 820 . Mortgage lenders use the mid bureau score (804) for scoring purposes. I didn’t need my very high 804 FICO but with rental refinances, one needs all the positve factors to get the loan approval. Having 804 (mid bureau) score was “icing” on the cake. (20 yr same employer, 30+
yrs same occupation, steady rising income and decent financials were the positive factors!)

Alot of my CC applications pull Experian with Transunion second. Usually where I live (Southern Calif), mainly Credit Unions pull Equifax. Chase, AMEX, US Bank, B of A, etc pull Experian!:(

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