Snowman wrote:Sparky- Thank you. I have not actually been monitoring scores, I was just able to view them by creating an account and signing up for the free trials to view my scores. When exactly should I leave a balance? because I plan on applying for an AMEX and Chase around the 29-30th of December, and typically my BOFA statement cuts on the 26th (idk about Discover or citi yet.) Which card do you recommend leaving a balance on? I can easily pay it off if I leave a balance, but idk which card on. And from what I have read, it takes Discover 3-6 months to start reporting, so idk what affect it will have on my scores.
Great questions Snowman! I'll try my best to answer...
Since you know your BofA closes on around the 26th (you should always know every cc you have what date the statement cuts EACH month) so you can make payments accordingly so you always show one card with a small balance. In this case, I would go with BofA. I'm pretty certain BofA reports to all 3 CRA's (EX, EQ, TU). Someone can correct me if I'm wrong as I don't have (and don't like!) BofA. Once your payment posts, be sure to run a free credit report to see when the new info posts to your BofA trade line on your credit report. Chart how your scores go up or down according to changes to your reports. As your cc's age, you get points, when you add new accounts (usually) your scores drop because they lower your AAoA (average age of accounts). But remember, these are fake scores you are looking at since they are not FICO's. FICO's cost $19.95 a pop for TU and EQ so not affordable to run everyday. Use the FAKO sites that are free to monitor, but you have to know which ones pull from which CRA.
Many people pull their reports every day so they know exactly what is happening with their credit for each CRA. But, those cost money every month. In my opinion, it's worth it when you are in building credit mode or repairing your credit if you've had a life event where you have run into problems. I pay around $60/month for this since I"m rebuilding now that I understand how everything works. I'll drop some of these costs once I hit my goal of 760+ scores (considered "Golden" over 760 on FICO's). Anything over 760 is just showing off (LOL!) as it really doesn't matter if you have any higher, you will more than likely get the best interest rates or credit products you are applying for.
So, to answer your questions simply - Let a balance post on your BofA card (just a couple of dollars). Let the statement cut with that small balance and then pay it off after the statement cuts. You'll pay a couple of pennies interest, but well worth it to maximize your FICO scores. Remember, your other cards must be PIF before the statement cuts (that you will research to find out right??!!) so they report $0 as that is what is going to show up on your credit reports once they post a few days later to the CRA's. After your scores have all posted to the 3 CRA's, then go to myFICO.com and order your TU and EQ FICO reports where you'll get your true scores (will cost ya about abour $40 to do this..but I'm not trying to save you money, I'm trying to teach you how to monitor your scores so you know what's going on and how it works). I must state something for those that are more advanced so they don't complain I didn't tell you everything. TU FICO is kind of an outdated scoring model (there is a newer one, but they don't sell it to you). But it is a good indicator of your true FICO score but lenders pull different scoring models so it is often difficult to predict exactly which one they will pull for general discussion purposes.
You can rotate around to different cards which one you want to show a small balance each month (that's what I do). Occasionally, if you screw up and the all report $0, it's no big deal since the next statement cycle you can get your scores up again since they will drop if you are showing all at $0. Just don't apply for anything during that time until you get things back on the right cycle. The important thing is you understand how it all works so you can plan your apps at exactly the right time so your scores are at their best. I'll come up with a couple of sites to suggest to you to pull your credit reports but there are many of them and they all cost different amounts to monitor each one of the credit bureaus. I pull about 5 different reports a day so I stay on top of it and chart everything so I can see what an INQ costs in points or adding new accounts etc...It's actually a fun hobby.
Hope this info helps. I know it's a lot, but it's pretty simple once you get the hang of it.