I have two CC. A BoA that is rarely used with a $1200 CL and a Chase with a $5000 CL that gets about $2k per month in use. I pay it off 2x per month so I hover at from 1-20% utilization. I'm planning on buying my first home later this year with a current score around 710. Is it worth asking my CCC's for a higher limit so that I stay below 16%. Does going up to 17% occasionally matter or is it just the reported utilization at the time the score is pulled? Does asking for a limit increase add a hard inquiry?
Both of your cards report the statement balance to the credit reports, so it doesn't really matter what your utilization is until just before your statement comes out, as this is what is reported. CLIs on both cards would help with utilization though. A request for CLI is usually a hard inquiry, but, once in awihle, you can get away with only a soft pull. Expect two hard pulls, though, if you are asking for 2 CLIs.
So theoretically, if I ran 100% utilization for 6 months, paid it down to $0, and then just wait for the CCC'S to report my balance to the CB it would be no different than sitting at 1% utilization for those 6 months? It sounds like I should just sit tight for now and try for the CLI after the mortgage is closed.
You are correct, except running your cards at 100% utilization for 6 months could scare your creditors and cause adverse action ie: credit limit reductions or account closures.
But, yes, if you don't go get AA for maxing out all of your cards, it doesn't matter what your util was for the last 6 months. As long as it is where you want it to be for the most recent statement date, your FICO and credit reports are the same as if you had not used the cards at all and then let the same balance report on the most recent statement.
Like Mr. Signal said, it is only reported balances that count. To make sure reported balances stay under control you should consider pre-funding your purchases by paying in excess of the outstanding balance so that future purchases will be deducted from the excess amount before affecting the reportable balance.