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One of the most important things to know when applying for multiple credit cards at a time is which credit bureau each bank pulls your credit report from. There are three main credit bureaus or credit reporting agencies (CRAs) that banks and credit card companies use to pull credit reports from – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Which credit card issuer uses which credit reporting agency can determine whether your credit card application is successful, especially when applying for multiple cards especially in a short amount of time (either on the same day or consecutive ones), since if the applications are going to the same bureau it could affect your chances of being approved.

If the issuers are going to different bureaus, one issuer likely will not see that you’re applying for a card from another issuer and your chances of being approved for several cards should increase. Multiple credit card applications – especially if refused – can reduce your FICO score, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before attempting to apply for several cards at once.

Be aware of your credit score and do you your best to keep it in good standing.
Credit card companies will refer to the three main credit reporting agencies when you apply for a new card.

Know Your Score

The most important first step to take is to know what your FICO score is and how your credit report will look to potential credit card issuers.

As I have explained before in this prior post, FICO stands for the Fair Isaac Company (not a government department) that aggregates credit data and sells that information to individuals and companies. Though there are a number of other credit-scoring companies such as VantageScore, the most widely used is FICO.

Your FICO score is a number between 300-850 that the Fair Isaac Company issues based on your credit, and which is a good way to estimate what your credit score is and whether you’ll be successful when applying for credit cards.

“Good” credit is generally over 700, and credit card companies generally don’t differentiate much among scores between 720-850.

FICO score breakdown from myfico.com
FICO score breakdown from myfico.com

Five factors determine your score to varying degrees, per the chart above, and include your payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new lines of credit you have opened recently and the types of credit you use.

For more information on how your credit score is calculated and how to check it for yourself for free, check out my post on How To Check Your Credit Score For Free: Step One In My Credit Card Application Process.

Which Credit Bureaus Banks Check

When you apply for a credit card, or multiple credit cards, each issuer contacts a credit bureau (or several) to get a credit report on you. Included on your report are the five factors I mentioned above, and you’ll notice one of them, which counts for 10% of your credit score, is “new credit.” That means if you have applied for a lot of credit cards recently and then apply for yet another, a bank might view your prospects as a customer a bit more gloomily than they would otherwise.

However, by knowing which credit reporting agency your issuer or issuers regularly pulls from, you can space out your applications (or bundle them as the case may be) in such a way that you will have more success getting approved for the credit cards you want.

While credit card companies tend to rely on one bureau over another, which credit bureau they use also changes depending on what state you live in and which specific card you apply for.

In general, Citi usually pulls from Equifax or Experian, Amex primarily pulls Experian and sometimes Equifax or TransUnion, and Chase favors Experian, but also Equifax or TransUnion.

So let’s say you find out that Citi pulls from Equifax and Chase uses Experian for the specific card applications you want, then you could apply for both in a day and improve your chances of getting approved for both cards.

Unfortunately, the credit card companies do not openly reveal which bureau they favor. However there are online resources that gather customer feedback to help give an overall average of which issuer uses which credit bureau.

CreditBoards.com

The Credit Pulls database is a useful resource.
The Credit Pulls database is a useful resource.

One of the most popular resources to help you figure out which agency will likely generate a credit report based on your application, as well as what score you have to have in order to get approved for a particular card, is the CreditPulls database of CreditBoards.com. However, be sure to check the dates of the posting as there may have been changes since the data was inputted by each user.

The process is quite simple and is as follows:

  • Visit CreditBoards.com.
  • Click the Credit Pulls option on the menu bar.
  • Enter the creditor name – you can do a general search by company such as ‘Chase,’ or more specifically by card, such as ‘Chase Sapphire Preferred.’
  • Select your state and hit search.

For more detailed information, you can choose a specific bureau or the score needed, but I recommend leaving both those boxes blank for a wider range of options.

I did a sample of searches for some of the most popular cards for applicants in California, New York and Illinois (or any of the three states there was data on) and here is a review of the results. As you’ll see, even if you’re applying for the same card, which credit bureau is involved will depend on which state you are in, and sometimes even which part of the state, so these are not comprehensive listings, but really a jumping off point.

Below are the most common outcomes, but I must stress that they do also vary between cities and individual customer criteria, so to get the best picture possibly, you should check the site for yourself and enter in your own information.

Most Chase Sapphire Preferred applications in California go to Experian.
Most Chase Sapphire Preferred applications in California go to Experian.

American Express

Credit Card: Premier Rewards Gold

  • CA: Experian
  • NY: Experian

Credit Card: Business Gold Rewards

  • CA: Experian
  • NY: Experian

Credit Card: Platinum

  • CA: Experian
  • NY: Experian
  • IL: Experian or TransUnion

Credit Card: Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

  • CA: TransUnion
  • NY: Experian
  • IL: Experian

Credit Card: Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

  • CA: Experian or TransUnion
  • NY: Experian
  • IL: Equifax or Experian

Barclaycard

Credit Card: Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

  • CA: TransUnion
  • NY: TransUnion
  • IL: TransUnion

Credit Card: US Airways MasterCard

  • CA: TransUnion
  • NY: TransUnion
  • IL: TransUnion

Chase

Credit Card: Ink Plus

  • Little data, but depending but a mix of all three unions, even on applications within the same state

Credit Card: Ink Bold

  • CA: Equifax
  • No New York data, but other Northeast locations reported Experian and Equifax

Credit Card: Chase Sapphire Preferred

  • CA: Experian (but sometimes Equifax)
  • NY: TransUnion
  • IL: TransUnion

Credit Card: Chase Freedom

  • CA: Experian (but sometimes Equifax and TransUnion)
  • NY: Experian (but sometimes Equifax and TransUnion)
  • IL: Experian (but sometimes Equifax)

Credit Card: Chase British Airways Visa Signature Card

  • CA: Equifax and Experian
  • NY: Experian and TransUnion

Credit Card: Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card

  • CA: Equifax and TransUnion
  • NY: Experian
  • IL: Experian and TransUnion

Citi

Credit Card: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Visa

  • CA: Equifax and Experian
  • IL: Equifax and Experian
  • NY: Equifax

Credit Card: Citi ThankYou Premier Card

  • IL: Equifax
  • NY: Experian

Credit Card: Citi ThankYou Preferred Card

  • CA: Experian
  • IL: Equifax
  • NY: TransUnion

Credit Card: Hilton HHonors Reserve

  • CA: Equifax

Another way to find out which bureaus have been used by the banks you’ve already applied for is by looking at your own credit card report, which can be accessed for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.

For more details on FICO scores and how to check you credit report, read these previous posts:

How To Check Your Credit For Free: Step One In My Credit Card Application Preparation

Equifax Hit With Judgement On False Credit Report Items And What You Can Do To Protect Your Credit

How Can I Save My Credit Score After A Late Payment

My Credit Score Confessions And 8 Tips To Improve Your Credit

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