I have looked at-literally-thousands of credit reports of the tri-merge variety in my lifetime. Haven't seen any other than my own in a few years, but I've been in the process of home-shopping since June & have a little bit of advice. Perspective being brought to you here from both sides of the desk-former mortgage broker & current mortgage customer.
Carrying zero balances doesn't mean sh!t to the complicated math equations that help figure out your credit score. Your score is healthier (read: higher) when you have healthy limits (and the OP seems to have healthy limits; ie-several thousands of dollars total), but also carry a small balance on those limits and pay timely every month.
In specific, back in June I pulled a few points below where I wanted to be from a rate standpoint. My broker knew that if he could bump me 20 points or so, I'd qualify for a much better rate. So we used a credit rescoring service to run "scenarios" about what could be done.
I ended up paying down one of my CC's to slightly more than 10% of its balance. This was a high-limt card so that was a chunk of change. The other instructions were to pay another-much smaller limit CC-down to (again) a limit of a little over 15%.
I had the funds to do so and immediately paid them down to the dollar amounts specified. I obtained verifications of the new statement balance & recent payments. I submitted them to my broker, who submitted me for a "rapid rescore".
My scores went up 27 points, & boom I got my nice pretty rate.
I didn't use these tools when I was a broker, but my rule of thumb was to never try to finance a car and a house within 6 months of each other. The bureaus never seemed to like that much at all. Case in point:
Had a guy with a marginal score but who qualified for a cash out refi. Once I let him know we were simply waiting on Underwriting & had pre-closed him to aggreable rate & terms and alerted him we could get his cash out in the amount he wanted, he was pleased.
At the time, he said he wanted to purchase a car outright with the money, & the tax deductibility of closing costs and an increase in deductions on mortgage interest the first few years-along with a lowered rate & payment compared to his current loan-made sense for him. Even though this was a sub-prime product he qualified for, it was really a win-win for the customer. (Disclaimer: I get the whole using long-term debt to pay for a depreceating asset discussion and win-win is subjective in this sense. This product made sense for my customer, though I get that it may not make sense for you all; I digress).
At any rate, we had this convo on a Friday afternoon. On Monday, his file came out of UW with a clear-to-close except for one stipulation. Our company required you to pull credit and verify scores within 24 hours of closing based on how long the file had been open. In this case, we had to repull.
He had something like 22 credit pulls between our convo on Friday & that morning. He went to several different car lots and was weighing the feasability of financing instead of going through with it. His score had dropped underneath a pricing tear that disallowed cash out & jacked his rate entirely too high.
This guy went from sitting pretty to me telling me I didn't have a loan for him anymore over the course of one weekend.
So just be careful, carry a legit balance, and don't trust those "credit score monitoring sites" for anything other than the fact that they will monitor your HISTORY, but not reflect accurate score information.
Bottom line: For a healthy credit score, not only do you need open trade lines, but you need modest balances based on limit as a %, and you need to prove capable of paying those limits in full on time every month.
This post was edited on 11/14 at 1:04 pm