protechig wrote:This is because I have a number of late payments, high debt (probably around 90%), once account that has been closed (following a 60-90 day delinquency), and another that is in collections (but i'm disputing).
Ideally, i'd like to repair my credit within the next 13 months so I can purchase a home - for that I'd need to be at least in the 640s. Is it reasonable to expect a jump in that amount of time?
It's not so much time as it is addressing the derogs and what creditors and collectors will be willing to do as well as reducing your debt. Granted, that will take time but what can be accomplished in X time varies from person to person and situation to situation. It's certainly possible to get where you want to be in 13 months.
Carefully research before taking any action on your derogs as you can make things worse. If you have unpaid derogs then you should aim for PFD's where possible to get them removed entirely. Derogs tend to have a significant impact and hold one's scores down as long as they're on reports. Getting rid of them has to be your priority and going forward you need to have 100% positive payment history (see the link I provide below).
protechig wrote:Once I pay off my credit cards, it'll obviously be tempting to rip them all up - but I know I should use them, at least a little, what is recommended.
You really just need to understand how credit is assessed for scoring and risk assessment purposes versus looking for a recipe or specific instructions on how to use your cards. You can use them all you want (within reason and your budget). However, revolving utilization falls under Amounts Owed below which is the second biggest factor.http://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/w ... score.aspx
You do not want to exceed 30% revolving utilization. Both individual and overall matter. Lower is generally better as long as you're not letting all zeros report. Ideal for most is well under 10% and the suggestion for optimizing when applying is to only allow one balance to report at 10% or less.
protechig wrote:Also, what about my cards that have yearly fees, I really don't want to spend a few hundred dollars a year for the "privilege" of using their cards, but I know canceling a card isn't good either because it'll lower my total credit limit.
It's again the utilization that really matters. As for AF's don't just consider AF alone. Consider total cost/benefit for your spend (should have been done before applying). Run the numbers to help you determine if the AF's are justified for you. YMMV but my biggest rewards come from cards with AF's and they generate much more in rewards than the AF.
That said, I'm guessing your cards are probably those aimed at subprime consumers as mentioned above. If that's the case then work on gradually replacing them with better cards. With your profile you probably won't be able to add new account all that quickly.