Last week, I wrote that I’ve saved $18,466 on travel expenses since I started my Travel Hacking journey a little over two years ago. Many people have expressed to me that they are concerned about starting in this hobby. People fear their credit score will suffer if they open up a bunch of credit cards. Let’s talk about credit scores and Travel Hacking.
My Credit Score in Pictures
The easiest way for me to show you how getting into Travel Hacking is not a detriment to having a great credit score, is by showing you my credit score. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. I think that’s especially true in this case. I took screen shots of my credit score from three different sources.
When I first started writing about Travel Hacking, I discussed the importance of knowing what’s in your credit report. Signing up with Credit Karma is a free way to see your EquiFax and TransUnion credit scores and reports. There is usually a variation in these two scores. I recommend that you look at these as a ball park number to keep in mind.
Let’s look at a screen shot of my TransUnion and Equifax credit scores from the Credit Karma website. I took the screen shot on September 18, 2019.
As you can see, there is a 36 point difference between the two scores. Both scores are out of a possible 850 points. These scores use the Vantage Score method. Banks and credit card companies most often use your FICO score to make lending decisions.
Even though Credit Karma uses a different scoring method than most lenders, the two scores give me an idea of how I’m doing these days. I’d say that “Excellent” as listed on CreditKarma is just fine for me!! Now, let’s look at my FICO score.
Wells Fargo FICO Score
Did you know that many banks will show you your FICO score for free? I am able to check my credit score any time I want by logging on to my Wells Fargo account. The beauty is that I can do this on my computer and even on my phone! Here is my score as of September 4, 2019.
The point range of this FICO score is 300-850 points. My FICO score is even higher than the scores reported by TransUnion and Equifax. There is nothing like having an excellent credit score!!
CitiBank FICO Score
Various banks that offer free credit scores will vary in the credit scores they report. I checked on my CitiBank app to see my FICO Score. CitiBank is the bank where I have my AAdvantage American Airlines credit card. I took this screen shot with my phone.
The FICO score range is 250-900 points. Every bank is a bit different. Underneath the credit score, you can see my credit score fluctuation over time. It has ranged from 875-880 over 6 months. The next screen shot shows a year’s worth of my credit score.
As you can see, my credit score has fluctuated in a range of 25 points from 825-850 over the last 12 months. There are no crazy dips of 50 points or more as some people might imagine. The score has remained in the excellent range for the entire 12 months. I only wish I could show you my credit score from before I started Travel Hacking. My score has continued to improve or stay about where it was when I started.
So What Does This Mean for You?
I did not show you my credit score to brag. In fact, I feel rather vulnerable putting this information on the internet. However, I did it to prove a point. The point is credit scores fluctuate. Credit scores improve or stay roughly the same when you open up more credit cards. The caveat is to always use credit responsibly.
You don’t have to sign up for as many travel credit cards as I have ( 16 at last count). Start slowly and build your confidence and knowledge. Make that first redemption and notice how amazing it is to save a lot of money on your travels. Why wait to get started? A whole world of savings is available to you.
I hope I helped you understand how credit scores and travel hacking fit together. Now, I want to know what your next big question about Travel Hacking is. Scroll down and leave your question in the comments. I’ll address it in a future post.