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SHOPPING CART TRICK. Before or after mortgage?
I currently have 3 credit lines, aged 4, 9, and 45 months. Credit util 2928/4300.
The brunt of the utilization is on the 45 months old line (2420), and it is painstakingly being paid down by someone else who is the one responsible for the debt.
Because the total repayment of all the debt on that card could take so long, I'm looking for opportunities to increase my available credit, since I never carry balances anyway, myself.

So I've decided to go about the shopping cart trick! But the question is when? See, I'm looking to apply for an FHA loan soon to buy my first house, and the impact that the shopping cart trick could have on my account could be potentially positive. On one hand, it will increase my credit utilization WITHOUT the hard inquiry, but on the other hand, it'll reduce my average length of credit history.

My question is, will it be worth it to get a few cards (via the SHOPPING CART trick) before beginning applying for a mortgage, or is the net effect more likely to hurt me?

I've done my math and found that after 6 months, the net effect of opening 3 accounts at once, versus drawing out 3 new accounts over a year (every six months) is better. My wording may be confusing, but basically what that means is that if you do all three at once, after six months you'll have three six month old accounts. If you draw it out over 12 months then at 12 months you have a card 12 months old, a card 6 months old, and a card 0 months old. The average is better for doing all three at once, even though the initial impact is worse.

My score is around 660, and I want to raise it more for the best odds when I apply for my mortgage. What do you think I should do?

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It will depend on how long it will be until you apply for a mortgage. If you are planning on applying for a new mortgage soon, then I probably would not do it. I would hope that you have a decent amount saved for a down payment on the mortgage, I would take $1500 or $2000 out of that to pay down your utilization. If you have no money to spare out of your downpayment money, do you have anything that you can sell to pay down the card, could you get some extra income to help pay it down? I would be very cautious opening a bunch of new accounts before applying for a mortgage. Also keep in mind that most mortgage lenders will use a version of FICO scores, which are not found here.

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