I stop using a card 5 days before the cut, be advised if the statement closes on weekend its likely to cycle the Fri before so keep this in mind. This gives enough time for charges to post then I have them take the payment 2 days before to make sure it clears and if I am pushing it at least 3 days prior.
Sometimes a charge can post just before the statement closes, so paying on the issuer's website shortly before the statement closes won't be too reliable. Many issuers won't allow a payment for more than the current balance, regardless of what pending transactions there are.
If you push a payment via a bill pay service on your checking account, you can adjust it for pending transactions. You may end up overpaying, but the charge should post on the next statement.
As gdale6 says, you can also stop using the card sometime before the statement closes. This isn't foolproof, though. I remember I had a parking fee that didn't appear as "pending" until about three weeks after the transaction. I remember calling Chase because the merchant name looked like gibberish and I was couldn't figure out if it was fraud or legitimate. Fortunately, a helpful CSR was able to identify the merchant category, from which I figured out what it was.
I personally don't do AZEO. I like to earn a little extra interest on my cash, take advantage of 0% promos, use whatever card I want for a transaction, and only have to pay a statement once. I'll often have 6 to 12 cards report balances. Even for a rebuilder, it only seems worthwhile if you're likely to apply for credit within the next payment cycle or two.
My FICOs fluctuate between 740 and the low 800s, and I've not been denied credit in more than 5 years (thin file at the time).
As long as your payment posts before the statement cuts, your statement will reflect the zero balance (assuming you paid down to zero). Generally payments post within 1 business day. And if your statement balance is what is reported to the bureaus, then you’re good to go.
Just so you know, you don't have to practice AZEO all the time, just do it a month or two before applying for something to get a score boost before your app, or if you're going for a CLI or something and need a score boost.
I've been in AZEO mode for the past few months as I refinance my mortgage. It'll be a nice relief once it funds next week.
I find having 3 cards with staggered due dates (1-2 weeks apart) works well for AZEO-ing, as I can stop using the card that's about to cut a statement and move my spend to another card, or choose the card with the furthest-out closing date.
I pretend to work, they pretend to pay me. I have pretend credit cards with pretend limits, so I can pretend to buy pretend things and pretend to pay the bills.
AZEO isn’t for credit card applications really. You can actually shoot yourself in the foot because you are seen to not be using the credit you have currently. Keep aggregate below 8.9% and leave the rest alone.