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Multiple cards - which to leave balance on?

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Multiple cards - which to leave balance on?

I'm a maximizer, so common knowledge seems to be to carry a balance of 1%-9% of a particular card on that one card and $0 all the others.

Of the cards listed in my siggy, I was thinking of leaving a 1% balance on my AMEX BCE which has my highest limit of $20,300, and I always PIF all my other cards to $0. I think I'd prefer to have it at 1% as opposed to 9% just because I hate any type of CC debt. I used to carry 9% of my QS1 which ended up being $297 out of a $3300 limit, but they're taking forever to even respond to my CLI request after 6 months and me putting $2K through the card monthly so I've paid them to $0 and it'll get one purchase a month and that's it.

There's also that thought string that AMEX hates a balance. Are they gonna hate $207 carrying over each month? Just want to make sure I won't be hurting myself by choosing AMEX to carry this over on and to confirm it's still factual that it's best to leave one card reporting a balance and all others at $0 as opposed to ALL being $0.

Thanks!
FICO 8 (756)

AMEX PRG, AMEX BCE ($31.2K); Synchrony Bank Walmart ($10K); Synchrony Bank Amazon ($10K); Capital One QS ($6.3K); Discover It ($5K); Citibank Double Cash ($3.7K); Barclaycard Apple Rewards ($2.5K); Bank of America 1,2,3 ($1.5K)
Message 1 of 17
16 REPLIES 16
Valued Contributor

Re: Multiple cards - which to leave balance on?


@NANorris88 wrote:
I'm a maximizer, so common knowledge seems to be to carry a balance of 1%-9% of a particular card on that one card and $0 all the others.

Of the cards listed in my siggy, I was thinking of leaving a 1% balance on my AMEX BCE which has my highest limit of $20,300, and I always PIF all my other cards to $0. I think I'd prefer to have it at 1% as opposed to 9% just because I hate any type of CC debt. I used to carry 9% of my QS1 which ended up being $297 out of a $3300 limit, but they're taking forever to even respond to my CLI request after 6 months and me putting $2K through the card monthly so I've paid them to $0 and it'll get one purchase a month and that's it.

There's also that thought string that AMEX hates a balance. Are they gonna hate $207 carrying over each month? Just want to make sure I won't be hurting myself by choosing AMEX to carry this over on and to confirm it's still factual that it's best to leave one card reporting a balance and all others at $0 as opposed to ALL being $0.

Thanks!

I think Amex will be fine with you "carrying" a 1% balance of $200. Technically, that's not carrying a balance. Your letting a balance report, paying it, making new charges, rinse and repeat. 

 

FYI, you may want to read the AMA post from December. An Amex rep is asked questions for the benefit of My Fico members. I believe the Amex carrying a balance is one of the points that's addressed.


Current Scores 3/2016 Equifax 676 Transunion 697 Experian 648 Goal Scores: 720's accross the board. Gardening Goal: 3/2017
Message 2 of 17
Super Contributor

Re: Multiple cards - which to leave balance on?

It doesn't matter which card you let a balance report on.  I tend to switch it up.  Individual credit card limits are irrelevant when talking a small balance.  $4 reported on a $500 card or a $30,000 card is still going to be 1% utilization, for example and exactly identical in terms of scoring.

Message 3 of 17
Frequent Contributor

Re: Multiple cards - which to leave balance on?

I tend to try to not carry a balance on any card (if I do I pay it off before the due date). I tend to use my reward cards the most and then use the rewards to pay towards the bill. If you were to leave a balance, leave it below 10% on a rewards card but pay it off quickly, then repeat. Hope this helps

 

FICO- 661

 

CSP- $8K, Jetblue MC- $5K, Synchrony- $2.4K, CO Quiksilver- $2K, CO Platinum- $1.5K, CF- $500, Credit One- $450, Milestone- $300

 

 

AMEX Platinum Card- NPSL // AMEX Premier Gold Card- NPSL // Discover IT // Bank of America Travel Rewards // Chase Sapphire Preferred // AMEX Delta Platinum // Venture One // Barclays JetBlue MC // Synchrony Walmart MC // Barclays Apple Rewards // AMEX BCE // Blaze MC // BP Gas

Capital One Spark Business Visa // BP Business Solutions MC
Message 4 of 17
Super Contributor

Re: Multiple cards - which to leave balance on?

OP, why are you worried about which card reports any balance, and how many cards report a balance, if you are paying them all off by the statement due date?

Have you tried tracking how many points are resulting from that effort to pay before statement cut? If you have 5 of your 9 statements report a balance, because that is how your spend was best allocated for rewards on those cards that month, and they all just pay off by the due date on the statement, what impact does that have on your score?

 

Who else besides you is looking at your score currently?

 

Regarding AMEX, whoever told you AMEX does not like you carrying a balance (reporting a balance or carrying a balance with interest cost) was telling stories. I've had balances with 0% interest, or 6.99% interest on 3 separate AMEX cards over the past two years, to balances up to $4k, each paid down, and they have absolutely no issue with it. I've got 4 revolvers with total CL of $47k, plus PRG, and did not have to go through 4506T on the way to those cards.

High Bal Jan 2009 $116k on $146k limits 80% Util.
Oct 2014 $46k on $127k 36% util EQ 722 TU 727 EX 727
April 2018 $18k on $344k 5% util EQ 806 TU 810 EX 812
Jan 2019 $7.6k on $360k EQ 832 TU 839 EX 831
Message 5 of 17
Super Contributor

Re: Multiple cards - which to leave balance on?


@NRB525 wrote:

OP, why are you worried about which card reports any balance, and how many cards report a balance, if you are paying them all off by the statement due date?



In his opening line he said he's a maximizer, which to me means he's trying to get the most out of his score with respect to the utilization sector of scoring.  While he's obviously new here, he's clearly done some reading as he knows about single-digit utilization being the "best" in terms of scoring.  What he doesn't know, that he was inquiring about, was whether it actually matters which card reports that single balance.  If it mattered (which it doesn't) he would then use the card that would yield him the greatest score as he's trying to maximize his score.

Message 6 of 17
Super Contributor

Re: Multiple cards - which to leave balance on?


@BrutalBodyShots wrote:

@NRB525 wrote:

OP, why are you worried about which card reports any balance, and how many cards report a balance, if you are paying them all off by the statement due date?



In his opening line he said he's a maximizer, which to me means he's trying to get the most out of his score with respect to the utilization sector of scoring.  While he's obviously new here, he's clearly done some reading as he knows about single-digit utilization being the "best" in terms of scoring.  What he doesn't know, that he was inquiring about, was whether it actually matters which card reports that single balance.  If it mattered (which it doesn't) he would then use the card that would yield him the greatest score as he's trying to maximize his score.


Is OP a maximizer of rewards, and a maximizer of free time as well Smiley Wink

 

I will say outright that my bias is that "all cards but one at zero" is a too-simplified and over-sold method of improving scores. The idea of "maximizing scores" in this way gets people to think they are getting some oodles of FICO points by paying before statement cuts, when in reality, it's only a few points. I spent a fair amount of time arguing that point, prior to the time you joined here.

 

Thus my question to the OP whether OP has tried letting more cards report and has seen what that influence is on score.

 

Regarding single digits, I'm now at single digits in overall utilization, scores just over 800 on all bureaus, and I have anywhere from 17 to 19 of 24 credit cards reporting balances of some kind. No single card is over 40% utilization, so that overall and one-card utilization does need to be kept in control, but my comment always is that people who think they are getting oodles of points by getting to "all cards but one at zero" are likely just lowering overall utilization. Once one gets to that low overall utilization, then the number of cards that report becomes a very very tiny factor in any score changes.

 

Cheers!

High Bal Jan 2009 $116k on $146k limits 80% Util.
Oct 2014 $46k on $127k 36% util EQ 722 TU 727 EX 727
April 2018 $18k on $344k 5% util EQ 806 TU 810 EX 812
Jan 2019 $7.6k on $360k EQ 832 TU 839 EX 831
Message 7 of 17
Super Contributor

Re: Multiple cards - which to leave balance on?

True, it's definitely profile-specific.  It doesn't matter if I let one of my cards report a small balance or ALL of my cards; my FICO 08 scores remain unchanged unless I let all report 0 balances.  While letting more cards report balances doesn't hurt score, I don't believe that anyone has ever reported it helping score either.  For anyone that has data points on how letting more than 1 card reporting a balance yielded them more points than just if 1 card reported a balance, I'd love to hear about it.

 

I don't think the OP was getting after number of cards at all, but rather if the CL on a card had any bearing at all (outside of utilization percentage in and of itself) when that card was one used to report a monthly balance for FICO scoring maximization.  The easy answer to that question of course was no.  The only exception I could think of really could be an AU or joint account, but the OP didn't indicate that any of his accounts fell into this category.

Message 8 of 17
Super Contributor

Re: Multiple cards - which to leave balance on?

I didn't say more cards reporting would help scores, only that it is not a big difference having more cards report, all else equal.

 

And since the statement "all cards but one at zero" is not really the root of the controllable score improvement, why not just advise the truth: Keeping utilization down is the controllable factor to score improvements. 

High Bal Jan 2009 $116k on $146k limits 80% Util.
Oct 2014 $46k on $127k 36% util EQ 722 TU 727 EX 727
April 2018 $18k on $344k 5% util EQ 806 TU 810 EX 812
Jan 2019 $7.6k on $360k EQ 832 TU 839 EX 831
Message 9 of 17
Senior Contributor

Re: Multiple cards - which to leave balance on?


@NRB525 wrote:

I didn't say more cards reporting would help scores, only that it is not a big difference having more cards report, all else equal.

 

And since the statement "all cards but one at zero" is not really the root of the controllable score improvement, why not just advise the truth: Keeping utilization down is the controllable factor to score improvements. 


  It's also not bad for controlling debt.


Message 10 of 17
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