Which Credit Cards Are Best for Building Credit?
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TPG reader Martine asked me on Facebook:
“I just completed paying off my consolidated debt and am looking to build my credit, if possible with some type of rewards credit card. My credit score is 694 with Transunion, but 744 with Experian. Do you have any recommendations?”
Maintaining a high credit score is critical if you want to earn lots of miles and points through credit cards.
TPG reader Martine just finished paying off her debt, and is wondering what card she should use to continue building her credit while simultaneously earning points and miles. Her current credit score of 694 with Transunion and 744 with Experian should qualify her for most card offers.
The first thing I would suggest is to visit the CreditBoards website. They have a credit database of user-reported information on which card issuers pull from which of the three major credit reporting agencies. Generally, credit card companies will pull just one score, though some companies (like Capital One) will pull from all three bureaus.
It usually varies by state, so American Express may pull from Experian in New York, but Transunion in California. After obtaining this information from the website, I would recommend applying for cards from issuers that pull from the agency where you have the highest score. In Martine’s case, that would be Experian.
Another tip is to start off by applying for less premium cards. For example, don’t start with the American Express Platinum card right away, as it’s targeted toward high end consumers and is more difficult to get. You could very well be approved (many different factors are involved), but your chances are better if you start small and work your way up.
Some great starter cards include the Chase Freedom, Citi ThankYou Preferred Card, or Amex Everyday card. If you start off with these entry level, no annual fee cards, you can begin building up your credit to later apply for more premium cards.
For more information, check out this post on how card issuers get your credit report, and why it matters.