Q&A: If the credit card is paid off, will the credit score go up or not?

Dear Liz: If I pay off my credit card and carry a zero balance, will my credit score go up quite a bit?

Answer: That depends, among other factors, on how much of your available credit you were using on that card. The closer you were to being maxed out — which means using most or all of your available credit — the more dramatic the improvement you might see.

But your credit scores also depend on a number of other factors, including how long you’ve had credit, how many open accounts you have, how much of the available credit you’re using on those accounts, when you last applied for credit and whether you have any negative marks, such as late payments, in your credit reports.

In general, credit scores respond favorably if you use only a small portion of your available credit. People trying to obtain top scores generally try to keep their credit usage below 10% of their credit limits.

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