So I applied and got my new Amex card. My score increase 14pts. Not sure why but I believe that paying 2K on my BOA balance offset that 2-5pt hard pull. Just something to consider if your applying for a card and worried about a drop. Pay another balance down a statement period prior to apply any probably will offset that HP.
When paying down balances, it's all about if you crossed a utilization threshold percentage. It's always based on percentages (9%, 29%, 49%, etc) not dollars. It is perfectly possible that you crossed a threshold which resulted in a score increase from utilization which was greater than the score decrease from an inquiry.