You want to keep it as low as possible. However, using your credit card for everyday spending can cause your credit utilization ratio to go up, particularly if you don't pay off the balance in full each month. A higher credit utilization ratio will lower your credit score.
You can use your cards more frequently once you have your debt paid off and know how to avoid new debt. As long as you pay your balance in full and on time each month, there is nothing wrong with using credit cards instead of carrying cash, or in taking advantage of rewards like cash back or frequent flier miles.
If you decide to use your credit card for everyday purchases, it's crucial you make sure to only use it for things you would otherwise be comfortable buying with your debit card. Make sure you can pay off what you're putting on the card on time each month, especially if you want to avoid making interest payments.
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.
To build good credit and stay out of debt, you should always aim to pay off your credit card bill in full every month. If you want to be really on top of your game, it might seem logical to pay off your balance more often, so your card is never in the red. But hold off.
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.
The Takeaway. It usually takes a minimum of six months to generate your first credit score. Establishing good or excellent credit takes longer.
Don't Use Your Credit Card When You Can't Afford to Pay the Balance. This is arguably the number one time you shouldn't use your credit card. If you can't afford to pay for a purchase in cash, then you really can't afford to put it on your credit card.
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.
Carrying a high balance on a credit card for a short period of time won't do long-term damage, but it's still important to keep your credit utilization ratio low. Experts advise keeping your usage below 30% of your limit — both on individual cards and across all your cards.
Using it to pay any one of the three card balances, or dividing it across two or all three, would reduce your total utilization to 28%—but putting the full $300 toward Card 1 will do that and lower the utilization on that card from 38% to 32%—a change that will tend to improve your credit score.
One of the best ways to improve your credit score is to lower your credit utilization ratio. A good rule of thumb is to keep your credit utilization under 30 percent. This means that if you have $10,000 in available credit, you don't ever want your balances to go over $3,000.
Yes, if you pay your credit card early, you can use it again. You can use a credit card whenever there's enough credit available to complete a purchase. Your available credit decreases by the amount of any purchase you make and increases by the amount of any payment.
Experts generally recommend keeping your utilization rate below 30% (depending on the scoring system used) — but CNBC Select spoke to two credit gurus who say to aim for a single-digit utilization rate (under 10%) if you really want a good credit score.
By making an early payment before your billing cycle ends, you can reduce the balance amount the card issuer reports to the credit bureaus. And that means your credit utilization will be lower, as well. This can mean a boost to your credit scores.
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.
A conventional loan requires a credit score of at least 620, but it's ideal to have a score of 740 or above, which could allow you to make a lower down payment, get a more attractive interest rate and save on private mortgage insurance.
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.
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.
Your credit score may be low — even if you don't have debt — if you: Frequently open or close accounts and lines of credit. Generate lots of hard inquiries on your credit (which is easy to do, if you're not careful when you shop around for a loan and want to see what lender will give you the best interest rate)
To keep your scores healthy, a rule of thumb is to use no more than 30% of your credit card's limit at all times. On a card with a $200 limit, for example, that would mean keeping your balance below $60.