Any score is based on the data in a report. You can look at your own reports and see how interest is reported (it's not). What really matters as far as your credit cards are concerned in the context of your question is revolving utilization (balance/limit) for each of your credit cards as well as your overall revolving utilization (all balances/all limits).
bcourtney5965 wrote:Credit Karma lists payment history as "high impact" on a credit score.
Be very careful relying on CK. That said, CK is correct about Payment History. It is the biggest factor.http://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/w ... score.aspx
However, Payment History is basically just a matter of whether you're on time or not and any derogs (lates, collections, etc).
Revolving utilization also matters and falls under Amounts Owed. It is not the only thing that fall under Amounts Owed but it does have a significant impact.
bcourtney5965 wrote:My question is this: will putting expenses on a zero-interest card for ~6 months or a year and NOT paying harm my credit score?
Not as far as Payment History is concerned if there is no minimum due while you're under the 0% offer.
However, revolving utilization will certainly matter and impact your scores.
bcourtney5965 wrote:It seems to me that since they are offering 0% interest, it wouldn't be right that making use of the 0% would affect your credit score.
Definitely read up. It's a risk factor. General advice is do not exceed 30% revolving utilization, however, scoring models favor lower revolving utilization and fewer reported balances as long as all your revolvers are not all reporting 0 balances. That's why the general advice to optimize revolving utilization for those seeking to eke out every possible point (i.e. when applying for new credit) is to allow only one balance to report at 10% or less. Some suggest allowing 1% or a $2 balance on the one card to report.
bcourtney5965 wrote:Will this plan of mine damage my credit?
We can't tell you that the impact will be X points. However, you can figure out what your revolving utilization would be. Your scores are impacted by high revolving utilization but they recover as your revolving utilization drops. Revolving utilization is based on current balances and limits as indicated on a report. Prior revolving utilization does not matter.
That said, a given creditor may take adverse action (credit limit decrease, balance chasing, account closure, etc) if you have high revolving utilization for a prolonged period of time. It really depends on the specific creditor's risk tolerance. Creditors are not all identical.
There are unknowns in all this but we can try to help if you can provide the amount you're thinking of charging and the limit on the card you're charging it to as well as how long it would take you to pay it down to different lower revolving utilization levels. Our feedback, however, is just a guess and not a guarantee. From what you've said so far, steadily increasing your debt while taking classes is probably going to be seen as risky to many creditors. On top of that, paying rent with a credit card isn't always an option and in many cases it comes with hefty fees.