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Credit Cards

Can I Pay My Balance Before I Get the Bill?

Dear Experian,

I tend to pay my credit cards off before I even get the bill. Can that hurt my score?

-AGH

Dear AGH,

Paying your credit cards off before you get the bill won't hurt your credit scores. Even if you pay your balance off before you get your statement, the balance reported is typically what is listed on the billing statement at the end of the billing cycle. Depending on when you make the next purchase on your card, you may still see a balance reflected.

As long as you are using the card and making your payments on time, your credit report will reflect that positive activity.

Should I Carry a Credit Card Balance or Pay in Full?

Ideally, you should never make a purchase with your credit card that you can't afford to pay back right away. Credit cards can be excellent tools for building credit and for making purchases with the benefit of fraud protection.

Many credit cards offer rewards and incentives that can make using them very beneficial. And, of course, they are good to have handy in case of an emergency.

Still, you get the most benefit if you can pay your credit cards in full each month. Doing so helps you avoid spending money on interest and accumulating debt. It also keeps your utilization rate low, which is great for your credit scores.

What is Utilization Ratio?

Your utilization rate, sometimes called your balance-to-limit ratio or utilization ratio, is the total of all your credit card balances divided by the total of all your credit card limits. It is the second most important factor in credit scores, right behind your payment history.

By paying your balance in full each month, you are using your credit cards wisely and demonstrating to lenders that you are able to manage your credit well.

Thanks for asking,
Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist

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