My Journey To A 700 Credit Score
(March - 2019 - Update - Review)
Thanks for coming back for my journey to a 700 credit score for the March 2019 Update and Review.
If this is the first article you are reading, I am documenting my journey to a 700+ credit score including all the ups and the downs.
I hope through detailing each step of my story that people with subprime (300 - 400 - 500 - 600 - 650 - 670) credit scores can more confidently begin to build their credit.
This is the third blog post of my journey to a 700 credit score.
Please bookmark the Start of My Credit Journey page where I will post a link to all future posts for you to follow.
This journey doesn't have to be a lonely one...
Start your own credit journey to a 700 credit score with me, by getting your personalized FREE CREDIT ACTION PLAN now!
We also have a great resource that my Credit Knocks partner, Sa El, just wrote entitled, 'How to get a free credit score.'
Check it out and give it a quick read, it has some truly out of the box and ground breaking ideas.
I started my journey in the beginning of February but I didn't start working on the Credit Knocks 90 Day Credit Sprint Plan until the end of that month.
However, once I started, I didn't stop until everything I said I was going to do in last months blog was done.
This has proved to be an especially exciting month!
Would you like to know how to increase your credit score 100 points in 30 days?
Because, that is just what I did!
30 Day Review
Want to know how to increase your credit score 100 points in 30 days?
Here are the credit building tools that I used in March to do just that!
I completed the 1st, 2nd and 4th items on the list in time for them to increase my credit score in March.
Also, don't forget that at the end of February I was approved for a Credit Builder Loan and began Rent Reporting but those two tools were not reported until March.
If you missed that article, you can go back and read it here... My Journey February 2019.
And, I finally completed the 3rd item which was to review and dispute my credit records at the end of March.
The results are just what we expected... PHENOMENAL!
2019 March Summary: Mark Huntley
Highlights: Paid off all credit cards, added a catalog credit card from Fingerhut, and settled a collection debt (Credit Builder Loan and Rent Reporting)
Change In Credit Score
+ 131 Points
Oldest Credit Line
Ok, so as a reminder, I started with a 475 credit score on January 27th, 2019.
If you are new to my journey, you can catch up by visiting and bookmarking The Start Of My Credit Journey To 700 page.
This month, as of March 20th, 2019, my score is now 606!!!
As promised last month, I included my FICO scores provided by MyFICO for all three of the big credit agencies; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
I prefer MyFico credit monitoring services because they provide the most comprehensive services on the internet and send me alerts when anything new happens.
Included in this months credit score tracking is my free credit score provided by my Capital One credit card because it has multiple years of my credit score history and provides me with a TransUnion VantageScore.
I also included my Credit One credit card free VantageScore 3.0 Experian credit score this month and will continue to provide that score as well.
Finally, I am going to use my Credit Karma account to get us an Equifax Vantage score so we can compare all three Vantage Scores to my three FICO scores.
As they are the competitor of FICO, we will be able to compare VantageScore 3.0 vs FICO score.
It should be very telling to see how the two score react to similar credit information.I have also provided graph and some thoughts while comparing VantageScore 3.0 vs FICO credit scores that can be followed along with my journey to a 700 credit score.
Overall, my credit score increased 131 points in March!
I was hoping for a huge gain but honestly I wasn't expecting this much of a gain!
Because I signed up for a couple of the credit tools late in February and completed so many others in early March I was able to realize a huge credit score gain of over 100 points in 30 days!
Let’s take a closer look at what happened in March...
Breakdown Of March Credit Tools Used
If you want to know how to start building credit, here is a reminder of the steps I took in March.
Paid Off All Credit Cards
The second biggest factor affecting your credit score is your revolving credit utilization factor, in fact, according to FICO, it accounts for 30% of your total score.
Prior to me paying off all of my credit cards my credit utilization was between 70 - 90% of my available credit which was dragging down my score.
In the olden days (like 10 years ago when school was uphill both ways), most personal finance experts would recommend that you keep your utilization ratio under 30% of available credit.
However, FICO scoring algorithms have changed with the times and now the general rule of thumb is to keep your ratio as low as possible.
I had planned on doing this in February but life happens and my favorite child's birthday was in early March and I may have went a bit overboard with presents and parties.
It will be interesting to see how long I can keep a zero balance on all of my credit cards.
I do not have an active debit account due to a ChexSystems red flag so I use my credit cards when I do not have cash in my wallet which as you probably know, sometimes can be a problem.
I plan to address the ChexSystems issue (aka pay them some money) in the coming months which should let me qualify for a traditional checking account and a normal debit card.
Open an Online Store Catalog Credit Card by Fingerhut.
I applied online for a Fingerhut store catalog credit card in March and was accepted!
I was really concerned that I would be denied credit because I think my score was around 575 at the time I applied.
However, they gave me a $1,000 unsecured revolving credit line to be used to purchase products off of their website.
So far, that is the largest unsecured line of credit I have qualified for on this as since February.
What is great about this Fingerhut credit card is that it increased my revolving credit limit an additional $1,000 which will help my credit utilization ratio that we discussed in the credit card payoff section.
Another cool thing is Experian increased my credit score 29 points for adding this credit building tool.
Learn More About This Great Credit Building Tool:
Review and Dispute Credit Records
First off, this takes an incredibly long time because you have to do this for all three of the big credit agencies.
Of course, all three systems are different so you have to learn and navigate them differently.
And here is the worse part, I'd like to take this moment to apologize to You, Chris and, Sa... because I did not take ONE freaking screenshot or video any of this entire day long process.
But, it really doesn't matter for March because once you dispute your records it usually takes 30 days for credit agencies to make any changes to your records.
I suppose I will get more detailed about how this affected my credit score in April when the credit bureaus finish verifying all of my accounts.
Something interesting though is I disputed all of my records online and not by certified letter, I'm curious how this is going to affect the results.
If you would like to learn more about sending credit dispute letters, I've written a nice article on 'How to submit a section 609 letter' you may enjoy reading.
I also have written a companion article about how to write your own dispute letters that includes sample credit dispute templates in pdf format.
There are some really good do-it-yourself (DIY) credit repair tips in those two articles that I think you will benefit from.
Attempted to Settle Two Collection Debts
As many of you already know, I was a lawyer in my former life, and consequently, I like the proper use of words.
I 'attempted' to settle two collection debts.
I succeeded in settling one collection debt.
The other guys just won't budge.
I called the first collection company and we negotiated for about 5 minutes from $450 down to $275.
Here is the thing I did that you need to remember to do if you find yourself paying off a debt collector.
Make them agree in writing to remove the negative record from your credit records.
Here's the thing you need to do that I did not...
Get that agreement in writing before giving them your credit card number so they could charge me the $275.
This was really stupid because I spent most of the 5 minutes negotiating the removal of the negative reports.
The guy agreed and then asked me for my credit card number which I gave.
He gave me a confirmation number and hung up.
I am going to dispute the records at some point and use that confirmation number as my supporting documentation, I'll let you know how it goes.
Yes, I am kind of an idiot.
Overview Of Next Months Journey
If you haven't already, please take a quick look at the first blog post in my journey and bookmark that page by clicking here.
In it, I told you I would not be following the 90 Day Credit Sprint Plan in order and that I would be...
Knocking Down The Proverbial Credit Door!
Well, that is just what I did in March!
I want to personally thank you for following me throughout this journey.
I also wanted to remind you that I was about to refinance my student loans and am expecting a big hit to my credit score which should come in April.
This is part of a long term strategy of lowering my debt-to-income ratio by lowering my monthly student loan payments (debt) so I can qualify for a larger home mortgage when I reach a 700+ credit score.
I did a substantial amount towards building my credit in February and March.
I'm looking into whether the credit bureaus will credit my file for alternative payments such as life insurance because at my age you need all the protection you can get.
Here are my credit journey plans for April:
Please join me on my journey to a 700 credit score by starting your own personalized free action plan today!
More Keys to the Credit Door:
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.