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Credit Card Basics

How Can I Update the Balance On My Credit Card?

Dear Experian,

I just paid off a lot of my credit card debt. When will I see it take effect on my credit report?

- DUK

Dear DUK,

Congratulations! Paying off your debts is the most important step in reestablishing your credit history.

How to Update the Balance

Lenders, including credit card providers, usually update your account information once a month. For that reason, we suggest you allow a minimum of 30 days and up to 45 days for the new balance to be reported.

However, the updates could be made much sooner depending on how soon after receiving the payments the lender reported the new account details. If the payments were received close to the end of the billing cycle, the updates could be reported quickly. If the payments were made at the beginning of the billing cycle, it will take longer.

Improving Your Credit History

There are many factors that go into credit scoring, but the two most important are payment history and utilization rate, sometimes called a balance-to-limit ratio. The lower your utilization rate, the better for your scores.

I encourage you to continue using your credit card each month, keeping your balance well below your limit and making every payment on time. The lower your credit card balances, the lower your utilization rate, and it's best to pay your balance in full each month. This ensures that you won't be spending money on interest fees and accumulating credit card debt.

That current and careful usage demonstrates that you can now manage credit very well and helps your credit scores.

Pay Off Any Past Due Debts

In addition to paying off your credit card debt, make sure all other accounts on your credit report are current. If you have any past due debts, paying them off is key to rehabilitating your credit scores.

Utility and Cell Phone Payments Can Help Improve Scores

Experian also now offers a free tool called Experian Boost ™† that can help you increase your FICO scores instantly by adding your monthly utility and cell phone payments to your credit report. This is especially helpful if you have a thin credit file or scores below 680. A thin credit file is defined as fewer than five credit accounts.

Signing up for Experian Boost is fast, easy, and free. You can learn more about Experian Boost on our website.

Thanks for asking,

Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist

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