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Have had credit cards for 7 - 8 years without credit line increases
This is so frustrating for me. I filed for bankruptcy in 2004. Since then, I applied for 4 credit cards. Unfortunately they came with extremely low balances. They are:

1) Best Buy: $700 (Now, CIti Bank as of a month ago - mayby that will be good! I'm not sure)
2) Two HSBC Credit Cards (Visa and Mastercard). Approved for $300.00 and $400.00 years ago, never granted a credit line increase. Whenever I called, I was told they weren't giving increases to anyone. As of 2 or 3 months ago they were taken over by Capital One Platinum Credit Cards.
3) Discover in the amount of $300.00. Never granted a credit line increase. This has been taken over by another bank also. In fact, as of last month, with over 7 years of payments, they now hold my automatic payments from my checking account for up to 17 days before they will release it as open credit (ouch)! I have never had a returned check in my history of dealing with them.

I have never missed a payment on any of the credit cards over the past 7 or 8 years. I have a completely 100% on-time payment history. However, they have all said they will not extend credit on the cards. I have not tried since they have been turned over to the new companies since they don't have a history with me AND, because I would like to purchase a house and I have been told not to have any hard inquiries on my accounts.

However, when I use the strategic estimator(s). If I open another credit card and If I am granted a decent balance of $3000.00. Even with one hard hit on my credit reports, the open credit will apparently increase my credit scores and place them all over the 700 mark. That's pretty significant and seems to me would give me a better interest rate on purchasing a home.

The problem is that this past credit has actually hurt my record ( a lesson for those of you considering using some cards to raise your credit scores) rather than helped it. Having CC accounts that have not granted me increases even with an excellent payment record. It was probably a mistake not to apply for secured cards only, I just didn't know who provided them at the time. These were all cards that required high yearly fees and were essentially ripping me off. They never intended to honor the 6 month increases even though they said that in their offers. I wish I had known that a long time ago.

So, right now, my credit scores are suffering. I feel like I have been paying significantly and I'm not sure what to do. I have been trying so hard to restore my credit over the past 9 years. I do have one account that is joint with a family member. It is an AMEX that has a 6,000 limit. Unfortunately, because of an unexpected emergency, that bill is slightly high and my utilization is showing 60%, which is not helping. But, that is the only bill that I have a balance on and it should be payed on in a few months. As far as my FICO scores, they are:

Experian 694
Equifax 708
CK 686

I tried closing out two of the lower balance cards and that slapped me in the face. My credit scores went down as a result. So, keeping the low balance cards open is hurting me because it looks like my creditors don't trust me - Closing them hurts me, because it hurts my credit score. And, if I try for another credit card, I'm scared they will deny me because they will see that the other creditors haven't ever granted me an increase. Plus, and this is huge, I haven't had any inquires in the past two years which will look good for buying a house and, my real estate agent is saying I should probably not make any moves as far as my credit is concerned to quality for a house loan.

If anyone has any advise for a single woman who is confused as to how to strategically make the right move at this point, I would really appreciate your advise! I'm so sorry this was so long, I guess I'm feeling slightly frustrated. Thank you in advance.

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Bankruptcy is the big hurt.

If someone told you that filing bankruptcy would give you a fresh new start, they were lying through their teeth!!  That bankruptcy is a BIG negative on your credit report until it drops off in 2014 (ten years from the date it was filed).  Until it is gone, no one is going to give you any more credit.

You do have some credit cards, even if the credit limits are currently low.  HANG ON TO THEM!!! DO NOT CLOSE THEM!!!  Any time you close a credit card, you reduce the amount of available credit and that hurts your credit score.  You need to keep all available credit for as long as possible.

Keep your usage at or below 20% of the total credit limit and try not to max out any card.  Strive to pay all credit card balances in full every month.  That is as very positive thing to do for improved credit.

Utilize the Financial Tools on this site.  They really do help.  When I used the Score Simulator and found that a credit card consolidation would help my score, I swallowed hard, then went for it, and got it.  But a bankruptcy I'd filed in 1993 was gone,  my student loans were gone and I had a few years with positive credit remarks.  Didn't get the BEST interest rate but it was far better than the previous cards which I did keep and occasionally use.  

Do try the Home Affordability Calculator on this site to see if you can afford to buy a home yet, or if you should wait a bit.  Fact is, I didn't get my first home until I was almost  40 and I almost lost it after the divorce.  Sometimes renting is a better idea than buying. 

Hope this helps.

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Hello Jwsister's and thank you for responding!

Yes, the BK was a horrible course of action to take.  Unfortunately because of a huge medical circumstance ( a toxic exposure), I was sick and unable to work or even walk for 15 years.  After spending $750,000 of my own money, in addition to my medical insurance, I had no alternative but to file for Bankruptcy.  There are something's in life you just can't plan for, in this case, it was being in the wrong company at the wrong time and getting hurt significantly.  However, I am moving forward and I can walk again.  I have paid back many of the people I put on the BK and will continue to pay others as I can.  Thank God the system is in place for people like me.

I should have been slightly clearer.  I have a Bloomingdales card in the amount of 900.00.  They started stating that I didn't have a limit but settled on a $900.00 limit. ( I'm not sure why).  I do have a credit union that has been extremely generous with me.  I was able to purchase two cars, one for 24,000 and I helped another close friend get a loan for $15,000.  I have regretted that 2nd decision because I usually pay for the car.  However, he stood by me throughout my illness, took me to doctors appt's etc. and to me, his loyalty has been priceless.  That loan will be paid off in another year.  In addition, the credit union extended me a personal loan in the amount of $7,000 for an operation I needed.  That loan is about half way paid off.

So, there are other loans that are on my record that are helping me.  But, apparently it's not enough to move my credit into the mid 700 figure.  When I got the car loan, I was told my Fico was 760, so that means it's actually lowered over the past 3 1/2 years and I haven't applied for any additional credit or paid anything late.  All I've done is pay everything off on time and paid in excess of the amount owed or I pay the entire bill. I usually don't keep running balances.  The only exception is the Amex which I am an authorized user on.

As far as the house, it's time.  I'm 58 and I've rented for far too many years.  Spending the amount that I spend on rent is just simply throwing money away.  It's time for me to grow up and think smart.

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