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How many cards should you leave a (small) balance on?

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MonkeyButtons
Member

How many cards should you leave a (small) balance on?

I've read a lot of conflicting information on this. Most recently I've heard it's best to let one card report a small balance (between1-9%) but I've also heard that cards at $0 probably won't report at all. Should I let tiny balances report on all my cards, so they are still being reported? Or should I pay all my cards in full before the statement cuts, except 1? 

TU662-EX693(Chase)
Discover7k-CapitalOne2k-Chase1k
AU on BOA25k
Message 1 of 8
7 REPLIES 7
Dubious
Frequent Contributor

Re: How many cards should you leave a (small) balance on?

For maximizing FICO purposes, one card with a balance is the best option.

 

Major banks (BOA, Discover, etc) will still generate a statement and report to the CRAs when the balance is 0, so that is not a problem. From what I can tell from your sig, you shouldn't have a problem with any of your cards from this regard. 

 

Having all cards report a balance will probably kill your score. What you can do is rotate which one reports every so often so they all show some activity at some point.

Message 2 of 8
MonkeyButtons
Member

Re: How many cards should you leave a (small) balance on?

@Dubious Thank you, that was very helpful! 

TU662-EX693(Chase)
Discover7k-CapitalOne2k-Chase1k
AU on BOA25k
Message 3 of 8
oscar_actuary
Frequent Contributor

Re: How many cards should you leave a (small) balance on?


@Dubious wrote:

Having all cards report a balance will probably kill your score. .


I am eager to see what happens when I go from circa 4 of 8 to 11 of 13 reporting a balance Man Embarassed

Score about 730s with the former.  Utilization though is down with the addional cards, but AAoA took a big hit as well.

 

FICO EX 827, 2015 Feb; FICO EQ 836/900 (Citi), 2014 Dec; FICO TU08 818, 2015 Feb.

BofA Cash Rwrds Sig V 2013 10k; Fidelity Rewards AmEx /BofA 2013 15.4k; Chase Freedom Sig V 2002 24.1k; Chase Amazon Rwrds Sig V 2011 8k; Sam's Club MC 2002 10k; Dscvr It 2012 10k; Citi Dvdnd Plat Sel V 2013 8.9k; PenFed Plat Rwrds V 2013 20k; AmEx Blue Sky 2013 11.3k; AmEx BCP 2014 24.1k; Priceline Rwrds Sig V 2013 8.7k; PayPal Xtras GE Cap Plat MC 2012 5k

Message 4 of 8
HeilFico
Regular Contributor

Re: How many cards should you leave a (small) balance on?

I just made the mistake of letting 90% of my tradelines report a small bal this month. (Under $200 most under $50) This was just to give them all traction and because I always pay before the statement hits. I wanted to try waiting until they cut for once. My score dropped by 40 points! I just paid them all off today. I have three tradelines that should update by the beginning of next month. The rest will update towards the latter part of the month. Hopefully no AA because of my stupidity!

Message 5 of 8
oscar_actuary
Frequent Contributor

Re: How many cards should you leave a (small) balance on?

uggg. 

I thought I was being clever to put a utility or a charity on 8 of them, while our default cards are two others.

 

I get the feeling I'll get in the habit of prepaying the statement going forward.

FICO EX 827, 2015 Feb; FICO EQ 836/900 (Citi), 2014 Dec; FICO TU08 818, 2015 Feb.

BofA Cash Rwrds Sig V 2013 10k; Fidelity Rewards AmEx /BofA 2013 15.4k; Chase Freedom Sig V 2002 24.1k; Chase Amazon Rwrds Sig V 2011 8k; Sam's Club MC 2002 10k; Dscvr It 2012 10k; Citi Dvdnd Plat Sel V 2013 8.9k; PenFed Plat Rwrds V 2013 20k; AmEx Blue Sky 2013 11.3k; AmEx BCP 2014 24.1k; Priceline Rwrds Sig V 2013 8.7k; PayPal Xtras GE Cap Plat MC 2012 5k

Message 6 of 8
Dubious
Frequent Contributor

Re: How many cards should you leave a (small) balance on?


@oscar_actuary wrote:

uggg. 

I thought I was being clever to put a utility or a charity on 8 of them, while our default cards are two others.

 

I get the feeling I'll get in the habit of prepaying the statement going forward.


What is your new score?

Message 7 of 8
oscar_actuary
Frequent Contributor

Re: How many cards should you leave a (small) balance on?

up 3 to 738.

 

I still have 3 cards that have not had a statements, 2 will have balances

But I have had balances on 10 for at least two full statements  (all but 2 are PIF each time, the other 2 are 0%)

 

So, maybe the straw will break the camel when these other 2 cut.  Or maybe 3 of the prior new ones that are two months old have not hit the report?

 

Nevertheless, my report said I am dinged a bit for AAoA reasons, whereas before it was Utility reason.  Given the payments I've made lately (nothing huge), I would guess that has more to do with increasing total lines that reduced debt (better Utility now,but lower AAoA). But in all,  I just dont' know how much lag trime there is in the reporting of credit accounts.

 

I'm wating a couple more months before I go pay for a full report to tell me more.

FICO EX 827, 2015 Feb; FICO EQ 836/900 (Citi), 2014 Dec; FICO TU08 818, 2015 Feb.

BofA Cash Rwrds Sig V 2013 10k; Fidelity Rewards AmEx /BofA 2013 15.4k; Chase Freedom Sig V 2002 24.1k; Chase Amazon Rwrds Sig V 2011 8k; Sam's Club MC 2002 10k; Dscvr It 2012 10k; Citi Dvdnd Plat Sel V 2013 8.9k; PenFed Plat Rwrds V 2013 20k; AmEx Blue Sky 2013 11.3k; AmEx BCP 2014 24.1k; Priceline Rwrds Sig V 2013 8.7k; PayPal Xtras GE Cap Plat MC 2012 5k

Message 8 of 8
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