My FICO score has been up and down over the last 2 months. Viewed here, I was at 651 and then worked through the 660s, 670s and 680s. Made it to 693 the middle of August (4-5 weeks to gain 42 points). This was done by paying down some cards. I had 3 that were used for monthly expenses (CLs were $300 for one and two had $750). I'd pay them down (one would be paid off, maybe two and the other would carry a balance). Without paying them down before the statement closed my utilization would be about 85% (total CL of $1800). Paying them down before the statements closed and then waiting to use them until after that statement posted would bring my utilization down to about 40-45%. You can see how low utilization can give your score some good mileage.
I started putting some apps out in mid-August. Tried refinancing my car at a lower rate. For some reason I kept getting shot down for that but... I was able to -
Boost my CL of one card from $750. to $950.
And also obtain -
Target - $3000.
Barclay's - $2000.
Merrick - $1000.
Walmart - $600.
I found that the inquiries didn't make a big difference in my score. A few points here and there. But, after the app sprees I didn't pay much attention to when I used the cards in relation to when payments were made (didn't hold off on using them until after the statement closed). So a few cards showed higher balances then the previous month so the score dropped a little. The new trade lines also started showing up with small balances but enough to show a higher balance than the previous month when the accounts weren't there. These things took my 693 and brought it down to 654. Not a huge increase in the $ added to my balances but everything together chipped away at my score with the biggest hammer being the balances higher than the previous month.
Now, my thing to learn and some of you might be able to answer this, say I just pay the minimum each month and pretty much maintain the same balances and not have any other changes (no new credit, no inquiries, nothing negative), will the score climb? I know that paying down each card so it has a lower balance than the month before will increase my credit score and with more available credit, my utilization will stay low (worst case about 20-25% but most likely in the mid teens).
Pay back what you can afford. Minimum or more. Sit back, no more apps for a solid year or so, pay your bills on time. Your score will climb back up. It's that simple. Don't kill yourself on utilization, or watching your score everyday.
As long as your responsible, and do everything the right way. You will be rewarded.