Million Mile Madness: Credit scores and pulls


927,000 points earned. 73,000 left to go.

Background: Million Mile Madness is the fun and foolish quest to earn a million points in one month. Throughout March, I’m doing everything I can to earn as many points as I can while keeping within my ethical boundaries. I don’t expect that a million points will have been credited to my account by March 31st: points often take quite a while to get credited. Instead, I’ll track all of the points that I expect, and I’ll declare victory if the expected total is over a million. To keep things challenging, I will try to keep my net costs below $1,000.

All points earned and expenses incurred are tracked via this Google Docs spreadsheet. See all Million Mile Madness posts (in reverse order), by clicking here.


At the start of this month, I applied for 11 new credit cards and was approved for 10 of them.  Many people wondered what this stunt would do to my credit scores.  Others wanted more specific information: how many hard pulls were triggered?  When I applied for multiple cards from one bank, did the hard pulls get combined into one?  How many hard pulls were on my report prior to this month?  This post will answer all of those questions.

You can read about the cards I applied for in this post: “Million Mile Madness: The big churn story.”  Keep in mind that I do not recommend this as a credit card churning strategy.  I did a massive churn because of my Million Mile Madness challenge.  Normally, it makes better sense to proceed slowly and cautiously (see “Credit card churn planning“).

My prior scores and inquiries

As I reported in the post “Million Mile Madness Begins!,” I started the month with excellent credit scores (as reported by Equifax credit monitoring):


And, my credit report shows the following counts of prior hard-pulls:


Credit Inquiries
0 to 6 Months Old

Credit Inquiries
6 to 12 Months Old

Credit Inquiries
1 to 2 Years Old

Equifax 2
(Chase, Discover)
Experian 2
(Citi, Amex)
(Amex X 4, Citi, BOA)
TransUnion 2
(US Bank, Chase)
(Barclaycard, Chase X 2)
(Chase X 2)
Total 6 5 10

My new scores and pulls

As of Tuesday, March 26th, Mint Credit Monitor reported my credit scores as follows:


As you can see, my scores are still quite good, but they definitely dropped lower, as expected.  My Equifax score dropped a whopping 51 points.  Experian dropped 22 points.  And, TransUnion dropped 26 points.  The biggest reason for the drop in scores is (most likely) the large number of new hard inquiries on my credit report.  In time, the effect of hard inquires will decrease.  If history is any guide, my scores will rebound to prior levels (or higher) in about three months.

Early in the month, the credit monitoring services I use reported 5 new Experian inquiries and 6 new TransUnion inquiries.  I had hoped that the bureaus would combine those pulls in cases where I applied more than once to the same bank.  And, in fact, that did happen with some of my TransUnion inquiries, but not with any of my Experian inquiries.  Here is a table with the results:


March 1, Initial Inquiries

Inquiries on my credit report
(from March)

Equifax 0 0
Experian 5
(Amex, Barclaycard, Chase, Citi X 2)
(Amex, Barclaycard, Chase, Citi X 2)
TransUnion 6
(Chase X 2, Barclaycard X 2, US Bank X 2)
(Chase X 2, Barclaycard, US Bank)
Total 11 9

As you can see, the strategy of applying for multiple cards from the same banks had very little positive impact on the final number of hard inquiries that were generated.  The only consolidation that happened was with TransUnion, where two Barclaycard pulls and two US Banks pulls were reduced to one each.

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[…] “Million Mile Madness: The big churn story.”  You may also be interested in “Million Mile Madness: Credit scores and pulls.”  All of the cards I signed up for can be found here: Best credit card […]

[…] Million Mile Madness: Credit scores and pulls […]


The best source for credit scores are either from a lender and/or myFICO does not give Experian scores. A few lenders give decent FICO estimates but they are off a little.

I refinanced all 3 rental houses in June 2012 and my FICO’s (from the bank) were 797, 804, 820 . Mortgage lenders use the mid bureau score (804) for scoring purposes. I didn’t need my very high 804 FICO but with rental refinances, one needs all the positve factors to get the loan approval. Having 804 (mid bureau) score was “icing” on the cake. (20 yr same employer, 30+
yrs same occupation, steady rising income and decent financials were the positive factors!)

Alot of my CC applications pull Experian with Transunion second. Usually where I live (Southern Calif), mainly Credit Unions pull Equifax. Chase, AMEX, US Bank, B of A, etc pull Experian!:(


I have 12 hard pulls on Equifax in the past 2 years, mostly from Chase. Should I forget applying for new cards for awhile? Thanks for any advice.


@Steve: It’s not just inquires that lowers your credit score. The presence of new accounts and the drop in average age of accounts also has a large effect.


@Walt K, there are couple of other CUs that provide EX scores, but I think the one based out of Colorado provides it once per quarter and not every month.

Travel Splash

Thanks for clarifying on Citi Identity Monitor being FAKO. Here is the $4.95 link if anybody is still interested in it.
Sorry, the previous two attempts at getting you the correct link did not work. This time I tried it in 3 different browser and am more certain that it will work.

Walt K

Those wondering why the EQ score dropped, there are likely two things going on. As others have pointed out, there may be two different FAKO algorithms being compared, so the score may not have changed that much. Second, even if all accounts haven’t reported, at least some likely have. So the score would have dropped some from new accounts.

Walt K

As others have said, Citi Identity Monitor is definitely FAKO. The easiest tip off that something is FAKO is the fact that it is offering you an Experian score. Almost no one offers an Experian FICO to consumers. You’d need a lender pull, or the only other way I know to get it is if you are able to join PSECU.

Ryan K

@Travel Splash
Citi Identity Monitor is 100% FAKO


You will get more drop in credit score when these new cards show up on your account because it decreases the average age history of your total accounts as well new accounts make you a more risky customer because you are seeking credit, your score will bounce back in 3-6 months.


@travel Splash: Still shows $12.95.

I tried using Credit Secure from Amex. $1 for the first trial month. and then got offered $11/month if I prepaid for the entire year.
You can pull the 3-bureau report twice a month. Haven’t taken the offer yet…

I did have experian (through last year…$1 for the first trial week and then got offered a $7/month deal, which I took. You can pull EX as many times as you want and get the 3-bureau report for free once a month.


Almost all scores are FAKO. Fico is only from or lenders.

Travel Splash

Winner: I believe the Citi scores are FICO and not FAKO. It is regularly priced at $12.95 but here is the link to the $4.95 offer


You are comparing apples and oranges here. I am sorry to as this, but this test is very inconclusive and in fact causes more confusion. If you really want thus to be accurate, you should get the real FICO scores. For all that you know, the fake scores might have been the same even before your AOR.