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Progress Update: from zero credit score to 707 in 4 months
I started with no credit score in November (and no bad credit). I applied for 2 secured cards (First Choice and Open Sky. Within one month my credit score soared to 680 ish (transunion and Equifax). I got ****y and applied for another secured card (Capital One). I got it but my credit score dropped to 530ish. That was a blow. So I made small charges on all three cards, paid them off before the cutoff, and kept my utilization below 10%. Today when I logged into CreditKarma, my score had jumped (from 530ish last week) to 706 / 707! Whoo hoo! And now CreditKarma is recommending an American Express card with 'very good' chances of approval. However, I'm not going to apply for it. I'm going to wait two more months until Cap One gives me a credit limit increase. I'll then apply for the Credit One Quicksilver card. In six more months (and another credit increase on both capital one cards) then I'll apply for one of the better Amex cards. Just wanted to let people that credit score can be built relatively quickly ... it's a game with rules. Play by the rules and reap the benefits.

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