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Credit Utilization Question
How does Credit Utilization work in the long run? Is it just a temporary drop in credit that recovers once it goes down again? Does making small purchases/payments throughout a month to keep the current utilization down help? Or does it all get added together once the closing date hits?

Just curious cause I'm trying to build my credit from scratch so I have a really low limit secured card so most purchases bump up the utilization rate quite a bit. (But I pay off everything in full before the closing date anyway.)

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Credit scores are very fluid and can change many times throughout the month (basically any time a creditor reports to the bureau there is potential for change). That's good news if you're on the right track! 
As for how you use your card over the course of the month, my advice is this: Use it freely (as long as you can pay it down substantially at the end of the month) and don't worry about utilization as long as you're under your limit.  I nearly max out one of my cards every single month paying my mortgage and utilities, yet my utilization is always reported as being under 10% because I pay it on the correct date. Let the statement cut (this is when the credit issuer sends you your monthly statement with current charges, minimum amount due, and due date). Pay it any time after that, even up to a couple days past the due date. The CLOSING DATE is the most important date to be aware of. This is usually three to five days after the due date, so you have a short grace period to make good on what's due. On this day, the creditor takes a "snapshot" of your balance and reports it to the bureaus. You want this number on this day to be below 30% of the limit, and ideally under 10%. You want the balance due on the day the statement cuts to be high, because this is how you show the creditor you need a credit limit increase. If you run a substantial amount of money through their card every month yet carry over very little balance, you are a valuable customer.

And remember, FICO doesn't score you based on how responsible and prudent you are. Your grandparents' common sense ideas about credit would not net them an excellent score these days! Rather, the score is based on how profitable/risky you are to the credit issuers. If you pay your balance off in full every month you aren't as attractive to creditors as someone who carries a small balance because they will never get any interest payments out of you. Keep the balance small though, because increased balance indicates higher risk. Above zero and below 10% is the sweet spot.

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You will find the answer to that question in the articles on this site, as well as more credit information.  I took the time to learn it, and you can, too..

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