The ability to get a mortgage and the rate you are given are partially affected by your credit score (other big factors include your income and current liabilities.) Therefore, anything that can affect your credit score could have an overall affect on your ability to get a mortgage and also your rate. So to restate your question,
Does the last date of payment affect your credit score?
According to one credit expert, no, it does not have an effect.
As for your main question,
Is it better to not use credit cards at all for about two months prior to applying for a mortgage?
In general, avoiding using your CC for a couple of months shouldn't make a noticeable difference to your credit score, but there are some edge cases where it might:
- If every month you utilize a large percentage of your credit limit and then pay it in full, then it's possible that on the date your CC bank reports to the bureaus your utilization will be high which could artificially lower your credit score. If you find yourself in this situation you should ask for a credit line increase (but do not increase your spending as a result!) For example, if your limit is $1K and you habitually spend $600/month, even though you pay it in full your utilization could show up as 60% which could hurt your score. If you can get your limit raised to $2500 but keep your spending to $600, then your utilization would always be below 25%. If you request the credit increase and it's denied, then in this scenario avoiding using your card could help you. (Or perhaps keep the usage under $100 at any point in time.)
- If your credit score is just hovering on a boundary that matters for being eligible for a mortgage (580-660 range), then a few point swing in one direction could make or break a deal. The same goes for getting the best rates (740ish). You should ask your mortgage lender what the cutoffs are and if your score is close to the edge then maybe some tweaking could help you.