Our Consumer Pulse revealed more than one-third of the country continues to be impacted financially by the pandemic. As financial hardship spread, people initially turned to savings, but some Americans are relying more heavily on credit to pay bills. In our most recent study, one in five people said they were using more of their available credit. 17% of people with a credit card say they won’t be able to pay it. If you’re depending on credit cards to get by, it’s important to know how increased use can affect your score.
If you use your credit cards a lot, you should be mindful of your credit utilization rate. It’s one of the biggest factors in your credit scores and can be an easily missed reason your score changes. Basically, credit utilization measures how much credit you’re using compared to your available credit limit. Say you have a total credit limit of $10,000 from all your credit cards. If your current combined balances on all those cards is $2,000, then your credit utilization rate is 20% ($2,000 divided by $10,000).
The lower your utilization rate, the better it is for your credit scores. Ideally, your utilization will be as low as possible. This would mean you make purchases and pay them back by the statement due date. If you need to use credit cards to pay bills or meet other needs, your utilization rate could climb along with your balances. This could lower your credit scores. However, paying down those balances can help your credit scores bounce back too.
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