LilMirth: Thank you!! I've been reading tons of posts on the matter scattered throughout the forums, but having that info consolidated and coming from someone with experience helps tremendously. I've PIF every month since opening the card but do run up my util a bit high at times because I have relatively low limits (BofA: $1000; CapOne: $2500). I intend to keep my util at 5% from now on and just use my debit cards for monthly purchases. However, I am concerned about the number of inquiries (about 13) over the last two years, five of them in the last 10 months (I shopped around for an auto loan). I will keep the forum posted because I'm sure others are in similar situations.
There's a difference, for the purposes of both FICO scoring, and a lenders internal risk modeling, between high utilization that carries over from month-to-month, never or rarely making a dent in the debt, and the type of high utilization where you make use of your available credit, and then make good (in full) every month. Believe me, lenders understand the difference. The former would have them raising an eyebrow, whereas the latter is likely to have them smiling at you, and more agreeable to upping your limits. It sounds like you're the latter type of credit user, so you don't need to worry about keeping your usage below 5% of credit line-- use your cards in a way that's conveninet for you, and that will allow you to PIF always, or the vast majority of the times.
I'll also add, regarding BoA customer service-- As with any lender, YMMV. BoA, Chase, Amex, Cap1, HSBC, Discover, PNC, <insert myriad of other lenders here> are all the Satan incarnates to someone, LOL! By the same token, there are plenty of people who would counter-balance the negative sentiments & experiences with positive ones. I've had, by and large, superb customer service from BoA. I've certainly not always gotten what I wanted, but the customer service, even getting a "no ma'am" wasn't lacking. My formerly fully secured at $2k card is now an unsecured $10k BankAmericard (cash rewards Signature), that's been product changed three times now. I've gotten some CLIs by request, and two auto CLIs. I've not had any AA from BoA or any other lender. No ratejacks, no CLDs, nothing... So, take your time, and see what blossoms. If it turns out that BoA is not the lender for you, then you can shop around for what you want. An unhappy ending is not a forgone conclusion.
Friendly, Supportive & Respectful
"However gradual may be the growth of confidence, that of credit requires still more time to arrive at maturity” ~ Benjamin Disraeli
LilMirth: I don't think anyone else could've put it better. Thank you and kudos! I've had great customer service with BofA. I called in today to increase my limit to $2500 and, without asking, I was told by the rep at the secured department to call back after my 12th statement later this month to start the unsecuring process.
And to touch on what you said about distinguishing between high util and high revolving util: I spoke to the customer service rep before reading your response. After she told me to call back to start the review process, I asked what she thought about my account (usage, payment) and what she thought of my chances based on what she saw on her screen. She said that I run up my balances quite a bit (highest in one month was $970 out of $1000 limit) but that it won't matter because I always pay my balance in full. She did say that they will take a look at my balances with other creditors, and if I don't have any lates or high revolving balances, I shouldn't worry. That's great to know because before today, I did not know that creditors differentiate between the kind of util you pay off every month and the kind you revolve.