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I have been pilling up debt on my credit cards lately via balance transfer and 0% offers, so my FICO (credit) scores will be taking a nice deep dive. In fact, I believe once all the credit reporting agencies have a full update of my current balance, it’ll tank even more. Here’s a snapshot of my TransUnion score via Providian’s FICO score tracking.

Who cares if its not accurate? It's freeeeee.

Years ago I applied for a PayPal credit card issued by Providian, I changed my mind and didn’t complete the online application, but they sent me the card anyway (gee thanks). There’s little point to cancel it so I’ve sock-drawer it since.

Sometime between years ago and today, Providian introduced free FICO tracking for all their credit card customers, and that’s what you’re looking at above. There are a few things to note about the Providian FICO tracking. Your credit score may change daily and Providian gives little detail what date these scores are based on. This means your May 2005 score may actually be your April 2005 score. In either case, don’t rely on this to make any major credit decision. You can simply use this as a nice reference.

Here’s what happened during those time frame:

Oct 04: Received 0% balance transfer checks from my Bank of America VISA card. The offer last for 6 months. I utilized 98.7% of the card’s credit limit ($7,800) and took out $7,700. They money was sittin in an ING Direct Orange Savings Account earning interest (and tax).

Nov 04 – March 05: Edit: No major activities during this time. I paid minimum payment on the Bank of America balance transfer, and continue to charge and paid my other cards in full. I did receive a credit limit increase of $2,500 on my American Express Blue for Student card around Feburary or March, I can’t recall.

April 05: I paid off the 6 months 0% offer and other credit card debt. Edit: I also checked my credit history and realized I was an authorized user on a credit card I didn’t know about. My mom put me as an AU on a Citi MasterCard that had a $6,000 balance with a $9,000 credit limit. I removed myself as an authorized user from that account, and removed the account from my credit history. Credit score skyrocketed to above 750 on all credit agency. Here’s the score from 4/24/05.

I won't see scores like this for awhile...

The differences in the Equifax score is because there’s a positive credit card account in my Equifax report that isn’t shown on the other two agencies report. I’m an authorized user on my mom’s credit union VISA card. It has the longest history out of my entire report. The account was opened back in 1992, and has $13,000 in credit limit, no lates and all positive history. It currently has no balance on it. That’s the only difference between these reports, and it made a significant difference in credit score.

May 05: Applied for two new cards – AMEX Blue and Chase (Bank One) VISA. Took advantage of the Chase 15 months 0% balance transfer.

Jun 05: Received another 0% 6 months offer from Bank of America, taking advantage of it now. Same deal as above. Score didn’t immediately tank because of increased credit limit via AMEX Blue and Chase.

July 05: Score starting to slip. I applied for another card, the Citi Dividend MasterCard. Score should take another dive in the August update.

As you can see credit utilization is very important and it affects your score significantly. Anytime you get close to 50% utilization of your credit limits, you should expect your scores to take a hit. Generally in most scenarios, the lower your balance, the better your score.

I’m going to guess that my current score is actually lower than 723. The July score is most likely based on credit reports in the middle of June 2005, so my current score is probably around 680-700. My scores should recover and go up in about 6 months when I paid off my Bank of America 0% offer. It should also go up again in about 9-10 months when I pay off the Chase 0% offer. I’m not going to apply for any large credit loan in the foreseeable future, so everything’s peachy and right on track for now. Let’s see what happens 6 months from now!

Update: Jim’s post made me realized something is missing there.. I checked my old reports and remembered what happened. I’ve updated the post to include more information.

Things updated are:

  • Added Nov 04 to March 05 information
  • Additional info in April 05
  • Added a note explaining the credit score differences

On my next update, I’ll try to provide more information; specifically how many accounts I have, the type that are (installment, revolving, etc.) their credit limit and balance. If you can’t tell, I use to be quite a credit nut.

FICO Score Tracking Series:

  1. More Debt = Lower Score
  2. Who Cares About Credit Score?
  3. Lowest Score Ever
  4. Little Changes
  5. Nothing New, Yet
  6. Back Above 700!
  7. Breaking the 800 Mark
  8. What the Deuce?