I have many student loans which are not due yet and won't be due in the next 2 years. I will be taking out new student loans over the next 2 years too, but they won't be due.
I'm trying to have the best score possible 15-24 months from now (to apply for a mortgage). But I am not only concerned with the number, I am concerned with how it looks to a manual reviewer.
Can I start paying $5 a month on one or two of my oldest student loans to help my credit history? Or would it not matter since they are in 'closed' status? Would it look bad that I had only paid 1.5-2.5% of the loan over 15+ months?
The oldest was taken out in June 2018 and the next oldest Dec 2018. I have never paid on any of them so far.
(I don't want to pay more than a tiny amount per month because I'm going to be paying off car, doing a security deposit for business, etc.)
I would put that extra $5 to your auto loan (or savings for business).
It honestly won't matter that you've started paying off your student loans a little bit.
Installment loans are usually calculated as an aggregate and don't have the impact that utilization on revolving tradelines does.
Definitely minimize your borrowing as much as possible so that you have the smallest amount borrowed. Underwriting will look at your DTI, so if you have a large loan it could go badly depending on what kind of loan you get (DTI is determined differently for some of the specialized gov't back loans - some use the actual payment, even if you're on IBR/IDR, etc, and some just use a percentage of the balance). At this point you say "but then I should pay off the $5/mo, so that helps a little" - I would argue that paying down your auto loan (which is active, with presumably a higher APR) would be better for your utilization, DTI, & finances.
Where those student loans help is that they are (for most people), some of our oldest tradelines, so it makes the aging metrics better. Definitely don't apply for anything within 12 months (or more!) of apping for a mortgage (mortgage scores react pretty severely to old accounts), and definitely stay on top of student loan payments once they're due and you'll be fine on that front.
At this point you say "but then I should pay off the $5/mo, so that helps a little" - I would argue that paying down your auto loan (which is active, with presumably a higher APR) would be better for your utilization, DTI, & finances.
Where those student loans help is that they are (for most people), some of our oldest tradelines, so it makes the aging metrics better.
Would they definitely count all the student loans in the average age (if they are not yet due, Experian puts them under "closed")? I worried that they might be need to be receiving payments to be counted in the age.
Assuming I can do the business and auto and other things, my question is if I should pay the $5/mo to the student loans on top of that. But I guess it would do very little in my case. Self Lender and those other places seem to say you can get 30 points after paying on them for 6-12 months even though they're small, but I think my situation isn't like their typical customer's.
The percentage of on time payments tends to be the front facing customer service fluff that they sell people that doesn't actually impact your reports/scores.
As long as there is no derogatory information (one late will cause damage whether it's a single late in a history of lots of payments or just a single tradeline), you should be fine. The age of the tradeline is critical (whether or not you pay - though if you do not pay, then you'll hit scoring penalties). Your student loans are going to age whether or not you pay them, even though they're "closed."
FICO *definitely* counts closed tradelines. Vantage scoring does not. So Credit Karma, Nerdwallet, WalletHub, etc won't count it in their metrics, but if you get scores from Experian, MyFico, or if any of your financial institution gives you FICO scores (not VS), you'll see it counted there (including mortgage scoring).