No, paying the minimum on a credit card does not hurt your credit score – at least not directly. It actually does the opposite. Every time you make at least the minimum credit card payment by the due date, positive information is reported to credit bureaus. And as long as you pay the minimum amount required by your card issuer, the exact amount you pay doesn’t factor into the payment history portion of your credit score. It’s simply noted that you’ve made a payment on time.
There is a way your credit score could eventually be impacted by only making minimum payments: high credit utilization. Credit utilization is the percentage of your total available credit that’s being used, or your “debt-to-credit” ratio. If you make a habit of racking up more credit card charges than you can pay for every month, you’ll end up with high utilization. Credit-scoring companies see credit utilization over 30% as a negative. To what degree high utilization will affect a credit score depends on your personal credit history and which scoring model is used, but it’s safe to say your debt-to-credit ratio accounts for about 20% of your credit score. If you don’t have much credit history, high utilization will have a greater impact on your score than it would for someone with a diverse and lengthy credit history.
It’s worth noting that paying only the minimum amount due on your credit card may seem cheaper in the short term, but you’ll pay for the convenience in interest, and it could reach a point where even the minimum payment is unaffordable. On that note, be advised that credit card payments below the minimum amount due don’t count as on-time payments. And not making the minimum payments can spell real trouble for your credit score.
So, regularly paying only the minimum on a credit card could hurt your credit score in the long run if it leads to you spending beyond your needs and racking up more debt than you can afford to repay.
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