One of the things that I value most about my experience is my lack of experience. More specifically, I am new to the points and miles game, so I have just recently had to develop my credit card portfolio — which I think helps set me apart from some of my “peers.”
One of the things that I hear most on message boards, comment threads, etc. is someone looking to “break into” the credit card game. It usually goes something like this:
My son/daughter wants to get started in the credit card and points game — they just got a full-time job but have no credit history. What are some good recommendations?
I’ve talked about this topic quite extensively in previous posts, so I won’t beat it to death, but one thing I want to elaborate on is a theory I think some people seem to falsely believe —Chase Freedom or Freedom Unlimited are pretty much gimme cards for someone in this situation, and the best choice to get started.
Why this isn’t so cut and dry
While I am definitely not an expert, I have a ton of experience on the matter.
A quick refresh — I had a college credit card the last year of college that I put about $100 spend on. So in about 10 months I maybe used the card 5 times (smh).
Fast forward a few months and I have a salary, full benefits, and the urge to travel! So I obviously want credit cards, and at the time the Chase Sapphire Reserve had just come out. Even though I thought I had more credit than I really did, I didn’t love my chances at the reserve — so I applied for the Freedom Unlimited. DENIED.
Well that stinks. Next move, obviously, is to apply for the Freedom (I obviously didn’t educate myself properly). DENIED.
At this point I was scrambling. I applied for a few more cards, and ended up doing a few months with a Wells Fargo card that I cosigned with my dad. Not ideal, but I had to bite the bullet for what would eventually become the Reserve’s 100,000 points bonus.
Why this didn’t work
Ok, so I didn’t exactly prove my original point — that the Freedom is easier (or not easier) to get than the Sapphire products — but what I wanted to highlight is that having an income, or even the smallest amount of credit will get you one of Chase’s no annual-fee cards.
In my situation, there a few main things that tarnished my qualification:
- Credit card issuers love to see that you not only have opened credit cards, but that you also spend on those cards. I did not spend much of anything.
- While my credit score was great, I basically had no credit history.
The one myth I think many overlook
I think that many people view Chase’s no annual-fee cards as easier to get, and while they may be easier than their Sapphire cousins, they definitely are not a sure thing.
As Chase has become one of, if not the hottest credit card on the market right now, all of their cards are becoming harder and harder to get approved for. While I would argue that Chase is more liberal in their approvals for this card, I want to stress that simply having an income can get you one of these cards.
So what should you do?
While the point of this post was to disprove a popular myth, the obvious question now is — “ok, so now what?” You are in this situation, you thought you could get approved for a Chase card (don’t blame you for wanting that) but you didn’t. What are your options:
- The Discover It card seems to be one
- A card with American Express. They are the closest competitor of Chase, and have many great options like the Gold Rewards card, or one of the great cash back cards like the Blue Cash Everyday card.
Going back, I would have gone after an American Express card, like the Gold Rewards card. As a charge card, instead of a credit card, these cards put a bit more risk on the consumer to pay in full every month, and therefore usually will get offered out less sparingly.