If you haven't used a card for a long period, it generally will not hurt your credit score. However, if a lender notices your inactivity and decides to close the account, it can cause your score to slip.
Not using your credit card doesn't hurt your score. However, your issuer may eventually close the account due to inactivity, and that could affect your score by lowering your overall available credit. For this reason, it's important to not sign up for accounts you don't really need.
Credit scores can drop due to a variety of reasons, including late or missed payments, changes to your credit utilization rate, a change in your credit mix, closing older accounts (which may shorten your length of credit history overall), or applying for new credit accounts.
Unused credit cards don't make any money -- and an open credit card account costs money to maintain and monitor. So, the most common outcome of letting your card go unused is that the card issuer simply cancels your unused credit card and closes the account.
Having accounts open with a credit card company will not hurt your credit score, but having zero balances will not prove to lenders that you are creditworthy and will repay a loan. Lenders want to make sure you repay, and that you will also pay interest.
In general, it's best to keep unused credit cards open so that you benefit from a longer average credit history and a larger amount of available credit. Credit scoring models reward you for having long-standing credit accounts, and for using only a small portion of your credit limit.
When you pay off a loan, your credit score could be negatively affected. This is because your credit history is shortened, and roughly 10% of your score is based on how old your accounts are. If you've paid off a loan in the past few months, you may just now be seeing your score go down.
Credit utilization — the portion of your credit limits that you are currently using — is a significant factor in credit scores. It is one reason your credit score could drop a little after you pay off debt, particularly if you close the account.
If you've made a late payment or have other derogatory information listed on one of your credit reports, it could cause your score to drop at least 30 points. Also, using more of your available credit or closing one of your oldest credit card accounts could cause a large drop in your score.
In general, you should plan to use your card every six months. However, if you want to be extra safe, aim for every three. Some card issuers will explicitly state in the card agreement what length of time is considered to be inactive.
It's generally recommended that you have two to three credit card accounts at a time, in addition to other types of credit. Remember that your total available credit and your debt to credit ratio can impact your credit scores. If you have more than three credit cards, it may be hard to keep track of monthly payments.
It's Best to Pay Your Credit Card Balance in Full Each Month
Leaving a balance will not help your credit scores—it will just cost you money in the form of interest. Carrying a high balance on your credit cards has a negative impact on scores because it increases your credit utilization ratio.
It's better to pay off your credit card than to keep a balance. It's best to pay a credit card balance in full because credit card companies charge interest when you don't pay your bill in full every month.
It will take about six months of credit activity to establish enough history for a FICO credit score, which is used in 90% of lending decisions. 1 FICO credit scores range from 300 to 850, and a score of over 700 is considered a good credit score. Scores over 800 are considered excellent.
What does it mean to have perfect credit? If your credit score is 850, you have the highest credit score possible in both the FICO and the VantageScore credit scoring systems. However, the FICO credit scoring system considers all credit scores over 800 to be exceptional.
The credit limit you can get with a 750 credit score is likely in the $1,000-$15,000 range, but a higher limit is possible. The reason for the big range is that credit limits aren't solely determined by your credit score.
A FICO score of 650 is considered fair—better than poor, but less than good. It falls below the national average FICO® Score of 710, and solidly within the fair score range of 580 to 669.
If you're already close to maxing out your credit cards, your credit score could jump 10 points or more when you pay off credit card balances completely. If you haven't used most of your available credit, you might only gain a few points when you pay off credit card debt.
Your credit utilization ratio goes up
By closing a credit card account with zero balance, you're removing all of that card's available balance from the ratio, in turn, increasing your utilization percentage. The higher your balance-to-limit ratio, the more it can hurt your credit.
In most cases, you won't be penalized just because you haven't used your credit card. Therefore, it is always better to get rid of the card but keep the account open... this will increase your credit score and make you a better candidate for loans.
For starters, when you close a credit card account, you lose the available credit limit on that account. This makes your credit utilization ratio, or the percentage of your available credit you're using, jump up—and that's a sign of risk to lenders because it shows you're using a higher amount of your available credit.
Making more than one payment each month on your credit cards won't help increase your credit score. But, the results of making more than one payment might.
Paying off your credit card with the highest APR first, and then moving on to the one with the next highest APR, allows you to reduce the amount of interest you will pay throughout the life of your credit cards.