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Lower your credit utilization ratio by paying down your used credit or increasing your credit line

You may have heard before that closing a credit card can negatively affect your credit score, but there’s a reason for it: It can cause your credit utilization ratio to skyrocket. You should keep your credit utilization ratio, which is the percentage of your credit limit that you actually use, at around 10 percent or at zero, according to FICO.

Here’s what closing a line of credit could do to your utilization ratio: Let’s say you have two credit cards: One has a $5,000 limit and the other has a $10,000 limit. Each month, you use your credit card for about $1,500 worth of expenses, which brings your utilization ratio to a safe 10 percent. However, you decide that because you never really use the card with the $10,000 limit, you’re going to cancel it, but you don’t change how much you’re spending each month. Now, your credit utilization ratio has jumped to a whopping 30 percent, which can cause your score to drop.

By increasing your available credit, you can quickly see an increase in your credit score.

  • Keep all existing credit limits and pay down debt balances
  • Open a new credit card to add to your total credit limit
  • Request a credit limit increase with existing cards

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