I got my SSN about 1 year and 4 months ago. Currently I have six credit cards and a growing credit score. Basically I would like to show my personal experience on applying credit cards from zero credit history and growing credit score.
The first credit card I applied wasmore student card, now it changed to Discover it with more benefits than Discover more. The most significant change is everything is at least 1% in Discover it instead of 0.25% for the first $3000 in a year in Discover more student card. This card is generally not hard to get and pretty friendly to no credit history student. I submitted documents showing that I was an enrolled student and they gave a $500 credit limit (CL). It was a little bit low but I was satisfied since I had no credit history at all and it has much more benefits than secured credit card, such as no annual fee, 5% rotating category cash back.
After I got discover card, I tried to open Chase freedom and got denied. I have friends who also applied Chase freedom not long after they got SSN, also being denied, but they put $10000 in Chase checking account and local banker applied a reconsideration for them. And finally they got the freedom.
I waited for about 8 months and started my second round of new credit cards application. I applied for Citi forward (normal card, not student version), got denied. I applied Chase freedom again and got a denial again. I was a little desperate at that time. I even applied Chase amazon credit card, which didn’t have too much benefit but still got denial. Then I applied BOA 123 rewards card student version and got offered with a CL of $1000. I was pretty excited! I then also applied Citi dividend student card and got accepted with a CL of $4000.
At this round of new cards application, major denial reason I was told from bank was that I had too short credit history and not enough revolving account opened. This made me realize that one credit card is definitely not enough for building a good credit. The only two successes in this round were the student credits card I applied. This indicated that the banks seem use a different credit evaluation system for students when deciding whether to issue a credit card or not. So my experience suggests that you should apply for several student credit cards (more than 1 is definitely better) at first to start build your credit fast.
Some of my friends concern about applying for many cards will result in many hard pulls which will have a negative impact on your score but I think it will definitely be beneficial in the long run for having several cards in hand from the beginning since your credit score will grow faster. This is not hard to understand if you know the credit scoring model that 3 credit bureau use. Also noting that the hard pulls will be deleted from you credit report after 2 years.
Why Everyone Should Have a No-Annual Fee Credit Card is a good post explaining how a no-annual fee credit card can help you increase your credit score.
After I got this two new cards, BOA123 and Citi dividend, I started using them a lot, kept a low balance on card bill and paid in full on time. After about 4 months, I started another round of credit cards application. I applied Citi forward student card and was offered $4000 CL. Then I applied Chase freedom and was offered $3000 CL. Recently I applied Blue cash preferred and got a $2000 CL. Apparently, my credit history is growing longer and my creditability is increasing and more banks are willing to lend me money. That’s pretty much my short story of credit card application experience. I guess my major caveat is that having more than 3 no annual fee cards as soon as possible in the beginning of your credit building process will help you greatly.
BTW: If you are a student with a new SSN and want to get your first credit card, I recommend you to try out the Discover it student card. You can apply through my referral link so that both of us will get $50 opening bonus ( I appreciate it if you use my link, you can also ask your friends around to see if they have a discover student card so they can refer you). You can also google Discover it student card and apply through the official link but there will be no opening bonus. I also strongly recommend you to apply for Citi’s student credit cards such as Citi dividend and forward, Citi is normally very generous on giving you a large CL. Good luck on your credit cards journey. Be responsible using credit cards, be master of it, not slave.