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We discuss travel rewards credit cards quite frequently here at TPG. These cards allow you to earn top sign-up bonuses and then give you numerous bonus categories for everyday spending, opening up fantastic redemptions like premium-class flights and luxurious hotel rooms. However, there are a number of misconceptions out there when it comes to credit cards, so today I’ll continue our new series that debunks these myths and allows you to begin planning for your next vacation.

Previous entries includes having too many cards, closing a card you don’t use, how permanent of an impact an application has on your score, not paying your balance in full, paying an annual fee, keeping your points when canceling a card, whether annual fees count toward a sign-up bonus, what to do if your application isn’t immediately approved, whether cards are a surefire way to get into debt and whether you should accept a credit line increase. Today I’ll continue looking at your credit score and debunk a common myth when it comes to your account balances.

Myth #11: Carrying a balance helps my credit score.

When a credit card issuer is considering whether to approve your application for credit, your credit score is a critical component in the decision. This number is a reflection of how well you can manage any type of credit that has been extended to you, including things like mortgages and home equity loans. A common misconception out there is that issuers want to see you carrying balances from month to month, as it shows that you are using your cards and could handle new lines of credit. While this is technically accurate, it unfortunately leads some cardholders to not pay their statements in full so as to leave some balance on each account.

This thinking follows some flawed logic, as it assumes that issuers can only see balances past your statement due date. In reality, credit card companies report your statement balances to the major credit bureaus every month. For example, here’s what my TransUnion report shows for my JetBlue Plus Card:


That happens to match the balance on my most recent statement (at the time of writing):


It’s also important to note that I have auto-pay set up on this account. Every month I automatically pay the full statement balance on the payment due date. However, because the statement balance is still being reported to the credit bureaus each month, card issuers still see that I am using the card without carrying any balance over to the next month. There’s simply no need to leave any of that $519.64 unpaid.

Remember that not paying your statement balance in full can result in interest charges that can negate the value of any points or miles you’re earning on the card, the main reason why this earned the top spot on my Ten Commandments for Travel Rewards Credit Cards.

Bottom Line

Understanding the factors that make up your credit score can be a bit challenging, but it’s critical to avoid making silly mistakes. In the case of today’s myth, simple confusion around how your balances are reported to the credit bureaus may cause cardholders to not pay balances in full each month, thinking that such activity can improve their score. In reality, it probably won’t impact your score significantly but will result in unnecessary interest charges. As always, we strongly recommend that you pay your balance in full every month, and hopefully this post has helped at least some of you recognize that carrying balances won’t improve your score!

Featured photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.