It’s best to have a ratio—overall and on individual cards—of less than 30%. But here’s an insider tip: To boost your score more quickly, keep your credit utilization ratio under 10%.
Here’s an example of how the utilization ratio is calculated:
Let’s say you have two credit cards. Card A has a $6,000 credit limit and a $2,500 balance. Card B has a $10,000 limit and you have a $1,000 balance on it.
This is your utilization ratio per card:
Card A = 42% (2,500/6,000 = .416, or 42%), which is too high.
Card B = 10% (1,000/10,000 = .100, or 10%), which is awesome.
This is your overall credit utilization ratio: 22% (3,500/16,000 = 0.218), which is very good.
But here’s the problem. Even if you pay your balance off every month (and you should), if your payment is received after the reporting date, your reported balance could be high — and that negatively impacts your score because your ratio appears inflated.
So pay your bill just before the closing date. That way, your reported balance will be low or zero. The FICO score will then use the lower balance to calculate your score. This lowers your utilization ratio and boosts your score.