American Express' FICO Score Requirements, Starwood Preferred Guest's Amex and Inside Industry Scoop on Credit Scores.
My friend, Mike Arrington, had a credit card issue. He helps a lot of people. He helps me a lot. He invites me and my friends to tech conferences so when he tweeted-blogged-Quora'd:
"My credit score is 748 and amex has repeatedly declined me for a card."
"Damnit Amex, Give Me A Credit Card"
-- Mike Arrington, TechCrunch
I was inclined to spend 70 minutes answering this question (see below). You see, I am a thankful person. Mr Mike has let me walk in dozens upon dozens of tech founders. If you help me, help the startup community, I am all in for helping you with your effort to get an SPG Amex, mentor you on FICO credit score + debunk the urban myths about credit scores, credit rules and credit underwriting policy.
Mr Arrington now has an Amex earning him massive SPG points!*. Yup, he probably put down as his job title when he first got rejected.
photo credit Mark Chua.
hiLarryAss, hilarious because this title, "blogger" doesn't make the risk dept at Amex jump for joy.
*:-) After texting Amex executives, Mike Arrington got one at 11:45 am Oct 26, 2010.
Who am I to give advice to a Stanford University, Law graduate, (Mike).
I read the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act), my company lobbies Congress, my company promotes FICO preparation, my company is #1 in doing lead generation for credit card account, my company never sells private information. I also helped another friend IRL, "Valerie" and her two college age daughters. Valerie's an anchor on a network called "CNN"
My 'advice' is FCRA based. There are very few people with the patience to toil on the front lines of financial literacy. It does not help that FCRA does not make common sense.
This Quora answer to "What FICO score is needed?" took me 70 minutes. It explains an American system that is set up to befuddle consumers. To make matters worse, American credit has a business model that, in short, sells derogatory credit information.
SO NOW READ WHAT I WROTE.
Mike Arrington's Wordpress article addressed a specific cry for help along with a tweet request for assistance (Yes, during the golden age of twitter, people would read and respond ;-)
"Damnit Amex, Give Me A Credit Card"
-- Mike Arrington, TechCrunch
The one key to these castles are yours. They access free SXSW hotel rooms, free airfare to Austin. And for me and my tech founders: Free access to $15,000,000 credit lines. I hate, love/ hate all the urban myths about credit (sorry if I scream but its frustrating when I know Fair Credit Reporting Act laws but people, fight, me, all, the, time.
I am not sorry the laws are old. I am sorry we have not passed LCECSPA. Here are the Urban myths because you do not know FCRA:
URBAN MYTH #1. Asking what credit score you need implies everyone at score level 748.6 gets in. It simply does not work like that. American Express uses FICO Credit Score as one metric among many for the credit accept/reject decision.
I bet they turn down applicants as high as FICO 770.
URBAN MYTH #2. Asking what score gets approved implies that you as a person have one score. This is not true.
Fair Isaac has been on record saying 15 banks that use their scoring system can give you 15 different scores.
Yes, urban myths one and two are the same, but I wanted to re-iterate that since it's such a big myth - I won't repeat myself anymore :-)
URBAN MYTH #3. Entrepreneurs get turned down.
This is true. If you're the business owner, you're gonna have bad credit sometimes and a founder's FICO cut-off will treat you, the tech CEO, harshly. Plus, lol, analyst say, "Cool, lets give him $75,000 in credit line, un collateralized"
I repeat: all people with a FICO of 745 are not treated equally. FICO is just one metric.
For example, Michael Arrington (investor, journalist) the blogger might get turned down because his credit application form signals 'entrepreneur'. Entrepreneurs are treated a certain way by a bank.
Myth 3 is compounded in FORBES. Read about founder, Mike Arrington's credit rejection in Forbes
and the Amex rebuttal
Amex's Ad Agency Asks Us To Remove Post, Threatens Future Business | TechCrunch
based on the original blogger complaint
Myth 3 might never go away because myth three goes against common sense. On my credit application, I am still "National Account Manager at United College Marketing Services". Also, the channel that the credit application came from matters. When I say channel, I mean location American Express received the credit application.
This leads to my next point.
URBAN MYTH #4. A lot of people think a credit app is a credit app.
It is not true.
Where and how you apply matters!
- I'd fill it out with a black roller ball, 1mm pen and use a fine tip sharpie on a PAPER APPLICATION.
- I'd photocopy my drivers license and staple it to the paper credit app (* Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA))
- I'd have the Starwood Preferred Guest line's front desk manager do it for me and I'd include my starwood preferred number bold in sharpie
Imagine you are the CEO of Amex. I hand you a piece
of paper. Or I hand you an electronic credit application
URBAN MYTH #5. Internet is best for service.
You have ZERO rights via email / phone / electronic fax / web browser / text message / smoke signals via twitter / blog via techcrunch
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) only reserves your rights via paper snail mail licked with a piece of US Postage stamp.
Mike Arrington's blog post is the exception that augments, propagates, promotes and accelerates this urban myth. Do not use the web. Do not use email. And for goodness sakes, do not call. Do not use the Internet.
Use a postage stamp.
The 'forever' stamp is truly the only method seen as legal according to FCRA. Guess how many consumers such as Mike Arrington interact using United States postage stamps?
THE SYSTEM IS SET UP FOR YOU TO FAIL
** FUN WITH FICO **
I am going to make the bold statement: give me 10 stamps and I will raise the average VC's FICO score 80 points. Give me 31 stamps and I will raise more money that a Y-combinator startup company.
- Google "9 VCs and their Secret FICO score"
- Or '9 Supermodels and their Secret FICO Score'
- http://whattheydontteachy ouatsta.
- I speak at NFL Rookie Camp on credit and credit scores as a millionaire. I should know because I am one.
** FUN WITH FICO END**
URBAN MYTH #6: Your credit score is dynamic.
It is not as dynamic as you would think.
Credit scores are incredibly static.
As a rule of thumb: once you have good credit you keep good credit.
Once you have bad credit you might as well click on the butt (at duck9 cuz you're gonna take it in the buttocks):
- see stanford grad startup SwishMark - #3 largest payday lender in America
- see http://duck9.com/ass.htm
URBAN MYTH #7. A college student is more likely to get a Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide credit card than Mike Arrington.
-) update Mike got one at 11:45 am (Oct 26, 2010). I tweeted Oct 25 2010 back when people read their at replies Re: 11:11 Nov 11
College students get mentored to build their FICO. The really smart founder, Mike Arrington, who has a Stanford Law degree was using common sense.
Urban myth #7 is actually true if that college student was using Larry Chiang as their mentor MMPQQ (mentor mention per quora question). Nick Lee got a credit card. See his answer BELOW.
URBAN MYTH #8: Congress doesn't read the FCRA, FCBA, or the CARD Act
This is NOT an urban myth. Just like bloggers, the only people that read it are the people that wrote it. Cato Institute quizzes Congresspeople about the Constitution and gives out copies of it.
When I testified before U.S. Congress on privacy (thx Billy Tauzin / Tom Campbell / Tom Udall) I cited and sourced FCRA a half dozen times. they thought I was a genius. Robert Pitofsky said some overly positive things about me and my effort to debunk credit myths to college students. He was Federal Trade Commission Chairman.
thx for reading this far!!
BONUS URBAN MYTH #9. college students are protected by the CARD Act (HR 627, House (of Representatives) Resolution #627)
This is true.
I passed this law because college students were dropping out more due to credit card debt than academic disqualification.
MYTH 9(a): The problem is that there is a catch 22 of what comes first. getting a credit card or adding positive pieces of information to the Credit History Bureaus .
Hmmm, maybe that is a company idea.
UPDATE: OCT 2, 2013.
Based on my support and my augmenting HR 627, zero traditional freshman, zero sophomores and zero juniors will drop out of college due to college credit card debt.
Previously, it had spiked as high as 7.6%. Thanks to my mentorship, my weirdness' and my acting Paris Hilton-ie, the United States of America will have zero college drop outs due to owing credit card debt.
Currently, if you drop out of college due to a $300 credit card bill (the max credit line is under $500!), you didn't drop out because you owe, you dropped out because of other reasons. Before HR 627, credit lines could be as high as $78,000. See the historic practice of Capital One laying away college students
I used to work for Amex. I would be pretty surprised if you weren't able to get an SPG. Can't provide too much more detail without giving away the precise risk formulae that they use (note that it's more than just a FICO Credit Score ), but, based on your stats, there are a lot of accounts in the SPG portfolio with worse credit / less credit history.
edit: I can't comment on answers anonymously but Larry Chiang 's answer totally nails it
another credit myth is one that Fair Isaac promotes. They say the average FICO average is 723. They have removed it, the false FICO average claim, from "MyFico" website. I think it was Craig Watts that said it.
Good luck in the system that has been engineered against you
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