What Are Credit Tradelines?

Mortgage and Lending with US Bank NMLS: 22343

What Are Credit Tradelines?


think I've made it clear before that I find no shame in talking about how hard we work for our clients. My assistant, Jamie, and I see a good number of mortgage applications come across our desks every week and in 2019 and 2020, a high percentage of them have been for jumbo home loans, which means that our borrowers must demonstrate strong credit depth by way of an adequate number of tradelines on their credit report. Gone are the days when one could just have a decent FICO score in order to cross credit concerns off of the loan approval list.


When we talk about credit tradelines and credit depth, most of the prominent jumbo mortgage banks like to see recent credit activity (that is, use of credit and timely payment) to consider any account active. And that's really what a "tradeline" is --- an account. An individual tradeline might be a mortgage, an auto or student loan or a credit card. All are different types of "trades" but in the case of revolving debts like credit cards, use of those cards in the last year or two is what really brings the tradelines into active status and works to meet the jumbo lender's requirements.  By far, the gold standard for jumbo credit is three active tradelines with activity in the last twelve months, per borrower.


So in that spirit, I'm going to let you all in on a secret for getting a great jumbo loan if you are thinking that a mortgage application may be in your future in the coming months. Here are three GREAT ideas for taking that seldom-used credit card lurking in the back of your wallet or purse, or that forlorn department store card that you forget you had, and turning it into a bona fide active tradeline which, in turn, makes you eligible for the widest selection of jumbo loan programs.


1) The Starbucks Triple Mocha Frappuccino (Venti): $4.95

This frosty beverage will set you back both 500 calories and 500 centavos --- but don't you dare pinch pennies to pay this time. Instead I want you to reach for the least-used credit card in your quiver and rack this hefty charge on that piece of plastic. By doing so, you'll bring this credit card to "active status" within the last 12 months and you'll be on your way to both cardiac arrest and credit qualification.


2) Nashua Tape 1.89 in. x 120 yd. 300 Heavy-Duty Duct Tape (2-Pack): $10.88

Race fans! Hot rodders! Weekend warriors! Remember when you bought your house and your mother-in-law gave you a $100 gift card to Home Depot? Remember when you used it all plus another $400 on that initial visit and they convinced you to open a store card, take advantage of the discount and then pay the rest off later? Remember too that you haven't used the card since that day twelve years ago? Well, now's the time to repair everything in the house with duct tape. We already knew of its all-purpose abilities, so you're burnin' daylight, pardner. Get crackin' on those DIY projects and the 'honey do' list and pick up a two-pack just in case.


3) The Warren Plaid Boxer: Now $15.00

One other thing that we know is that if someone is going to have a collection account on his credit report, and it's going to be of the variety of which he's unaware, it's either going to be a medical bill or a Banana Republic store card (close third to a cell phone bill never received). I'm not sure why this is, but people go bananas over Banana's billing. So let me help you save your credit shorts and get into a clean, fresh pair of undies while at the same time giving you an excuse to A) actually locate your Banana Republic card, B) place an order on it before they call you to tell you it's been inactive since Marky Mark made skivvies the shizzle and, C) bring your store card to active status in the eyes of Equifax, Experian and Transunion.


My point(s) above are simple.  Active credit tradelines are a critical component to getting a great jumbo loan, but you can't create them after you've applied for a mortgage. When we pull your credit report as part of the pre-approval process we're looking at both credit history and recent activity but the time to address both is BEFORE you're in the mortgage process. Or while you're saving for your down payment. Or while you're waiting for more inventory to hit the market, etc. Bringing your unused tradelines to active status is a little step you can take that will pay a big dividend later --- opening up the widest array of jumbo options and, as a result, giving you access to the most competitive rates.  Let me know if you have questions about this aspect of getting a jumbo loan and I'll be happy to help you craft a road map to success and hey, I might even let you in on a few more bargains as well...


Venti triple mocha frap for Ron,


Rob Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending

Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343 
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959 


Marin Office:  324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA  94960

Berkeley Office:  1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA  94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate.  In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate's Human Resources Department.


Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 - (866) 934-7283

Comments (12)

George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Rob the USA is the only country in the world that have debt is a good thing, and purchasing everything with cash is a bad thing 

Sep 29, 2020 09:53 AM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten

George Souto that is so backwards in my mind.  My parents went through the depression as kids. Thus, my Dad was a cash   guy, even for all his real estate stuff. Guess it stuck in their heads they never wanted to be owing anything to anyone after his folks lost their farm. I t;hink a lot of people figured this out after the last down market.

Sep 29, 2020 03:39 PM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Realty ONE Group Advocates 484-237-2055 - Downingtown, PA
Selling the Main Line & Chester County

I have several cards I use very little, one not at all, so I think I may need to spread the love around a little bit.

Sep 29, 2020 01:42 PM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Rob love it! This is exactly what  I do, buy my Iced Latte on credit just to be using it.  One company said, do you ever use your cards and then told me why I should be.  I didn't hardly at all but now I do.I don't like debt but I play the game, use em and pay them off.  I mean really how high can my coffee drink cards go. LOL $20 or $30 a month.


I don't think a lot of people how and why credit tradelines are important.  Good post!

Sep 29, 2020 03:37 PM
Brian L. Sirota, Esq.
Bristar Realty (Realtor/Attorney) - Orange, CA
For Solutions: (714) 501-7660


Excellent credit advice.    Terrible health advice.   

Yes to jumbo loans.            No to jumbo Frapps.

Sep 29, 2020 05:27 PM
Erik Hiss
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Worthington, OH
You can trust me for all your real estate needs!

ha good stuff Brian :) But yes good advice and easy to understand!

Sep 30, 2020 05:28 AM
Joe Jackson
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Columbus, OH
Clintonville and Central Ohio Real Estate Expert

Great information! Thanks for sharing!

Sep 30, 2020 05:33 AM
Kris Collis, Associate Broker
Smart Way America Realty - East Stroudsburg, PA
Professional Results you Expect 570-801-5525

Rob,  Really good advice.  Anyone reading this is sure to learn something, I did.  Clever illustrations and well-written too.  You put some time into this composition.

Sep 30, 2020 01:02 PM
Richard V. Foster, Esq.
Law Office of Richard V. Foster - Henderson, NV
Broker (58356) - ABR/M, CREN, CRS, GRI, RRG, SFR

Another huge issue that people do not think about is AVERAGE AGE of all your lines. Too many people take that first credit card, that they have had since they were in high school, and kill the line to reduce the number of open accounts. For a 57 year old, you just took 30 years out of your average... Your credit score is taking a hit!!!


Christmas is coming, do not be afraid of opening that Macy's account to save 20%... Your credit will take a hit... Then next month close the account... POOF, because your average is based on OPEN trade lines, you fixed the average and saved big on that high purchase.

Oct 01, 2020 12:25 AM
Dennis J. Zisa & Associates, Inc.
Dennis J. Zisa & Associates, Inc. - Camden, NJ
31 years in So. Jersey and the Greater Camden area

This is an excellent reminder to do what most of us forget about...showing at least some occasional activity on those cards.

Oct 01, 2020 05:00 AM
Paddy Deighan MBA JD PhD
http://www.medicalandspaconsulting.com - Vail, CO
Paddy Deighan J.D. Ph.D

it truly is sad that we are all but forced to use credit to kkep our scores high....I use cards and immediately pay off the balance and I rotate use of cards so that an issuer does not cancel the card. Recently a credit issuer canceled my account that was 15 years old because I do not use it and this negatively impacted ny scores

Oct 01, 2020 03:06 PM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Rob Spinosa - it is amazing as George Souto says that cash is a bad thing.

Oct 02, 2020 04:21 AM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate Services

Hello Rob Spinosa - important advice about the time to address both credit history and recent activity is BEFORE you're in the mortgage process. I'll drink this formula all day long ... hold the Starbucks. 

Oct 03, 2020 12:40 PM