Here’s a credit score tip from David Leach of the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection: Never let the balance on any of your credit cards exceed 30 percent of the limit.

Preferably, keep it lower than 30 percent.

If your card limit is $6,000, when your balance gets to $2,000 or higher, that lowers your credit score, even if you pay off your balance every month, Leach said.

He recommends charging no more than $1,900 for a $6,000 credit card limit.

When it comes to credit scores, the most important determining factor is payment history, Leach said. But the second is amount owed, a fact that surprises many consumers, he said.

Too much charging, even if you’re way below your limit, can lower your score. For example, Leach said a person with a top-notch credit score of 830 on Nov. 21 could find herself with a 712 credit score in January if the amount they charged went from 21 percent of their balance to 45 percent.

A report by NerdWallet, a personal finance website, agreed that exceeding 30 percent in any point of a credit card bill cycle can lower a credit score. NerdWallet recommended strategies to keep credit scores up, including tracking how much you’re charging, or raising the credit card limit, or paying mid-cycle. 

Credit scores are important to everyone. A bad score not only means less access to credit or higher interest costs, it can affect an individual in surprising ways, such as higher auto insurance premiums, Leach said.


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