How to Check Your Credit Usage
Knowing how to check credit card usage is helpful if you want to improve your credit score or financial situation.
Contributing Writer at Tally
August 6, 2021
Credit usage rate can impact your credit score. But, that’s not all there is to learn about this concept. With an understanding of what credit usage is, now it’s time to understand how to find it.
We're here to go over how to check credit card usage rates. There are a few different ways you can do so, all of which we'll cover. By the end of this article, you should have a much better understanding of the steps you need to take to determine how much of your credit limit you're using.
An intro to the credit usage rate
Your credit usage rate is a measure of how much available credit you're using. Your credit usage rate is also often referred to as your credit utilization ratio.
Your credit usage rate only factors in your revolving credit accounts. Revolving credit accounts have a credit limit you can spend, and when you repay the balance, the credit can be used again. Revolving credit typically includes credit card accounts and personal lines of credit. It doesn’t include mortgages or auto loans.
Your credit usage is an important factor in determining whether you have a good credit score. Your credit card company will report credit usage to the three credit bureaus:
The credit bureaus use this information in your credit report, which becomes a part of your credit score. There are two types of credit scores:
Both scores consider credit usage as one of the two most important factors when calculating your credit score.
You should aim to keep your credit usage rate between 0% and 30%. Anything above 30% can harm your credit score significantly. On the other hand, a 0% usage rate could indicate to lenders that your account is not in use and they should close it.
How to check credit card usage
If you would like to know your credit card usage, you will have to do some digging. Though you should easily find your current balances and credit limits, no app explicitly tracks overall credit utilization.
To check your credit usage rate, you'll need to know your credit card balances, your line of credit balances and your total credit limit. Below are a few places where you can find these numbers.
Your credit report
Your credit report contains your balances and credit limits. You can pull the report for free by visiting Annualcreditreport.com. This option allows you to obtain a free credit score, as well.
Additionally, your credit card company may offer you access to free credit reports. Check the disclaimer or terms and conditions to see if you have free access to credit reports from your lender.
If you do rely on credit reports for this information, remember that it may be slightly outdated. Billing cycle information often isn't reflected on a credit report for at least 30 days. So, if you make a large credit card payment or a large purchase that could impact your usage significantly, it won't show up on your report until roughly 30 days after it hits your monthly statement.
Your bank or credit card statement
You can also use your bank account or credit card statement to view your current balances. Log in to your online account or mobile app for a live look at your account information, including your current balance and credit limits. This should give you the most up-to-date information regarding your account.
A third-party app
There are third-party apps that offer credit monitoring. These apps can be convenient because they allow you to monitor everything on one platform instead of logging in to numerous sites to pull the information.
How to calculate your credit usage rate
As mentioned, the best credit card practice is to keep your utilization rate below 30%. But, how do you know what your rate is?
Gather the information about your account balances and credit limits using one of the methods listed above.
Add your current balances from your credit cards and lines of credit.
Add your total credit limit across these accounts.
Divide your current balances by your total limit and multiply the sum by 100 to determine your credit usage.
In simplest terms, the formula is: (revolving credit balances / credit limits) * 100 = credit utilization rate.
For instance, let's say that you have an American Express credit card account with a $2,000 balance and a $5,000 limit. You also have a Discover card with a $3,500 balance and an $8,000 limit. Finally, you have a personal line of credit with a $1,500 balance and a $2,000 limit.
Add your balances. You'll find that your total outstanding credit is $7,000 ($2,000 + $3,500 + $1,500).
Next, add your credit limits, which totals $15,000 ($5,000 + $8,000 + $2,000).
Divide these numbers ($7,000 / $15,000) and multiply by 100 (.46 * 100) to find your credit utilization rate, 46%.
If you are a cardholder with a high credit utilization rate, there are a few things that you can do to help lower it. Consider:
Applying for a balance transfer card
Seeking a personal loan for debt consolidation
Using apps designed to help pay down credit card debt
Requesting a credit limit increase from your financial institution
No matter which option you choose, prioritize being responsible with your finances. A good habit to strive for is making minimum payments by your due date. Otherwise, your credit card issuer will charge you late fees and may increase your interest rate. Making minimum payments and paying down your existing balances can benefit your credit history.
Understanding your credit usage will help you manage your personal finances
Your usage rate is a fundamental part of your credit score, so knowing how to check your credit card usage can help you get a better handle on your personal finances.
However, finding your usage rate isn’t as easy as looking up a single number. You’ll need to do a bit of research to figure it out. You can find your account balances and total credit limit via various avenues, including directly through your credit card company, through a third-party app or your credit report.
Once you have this information, divide your total balances by your total credit limit to calculate your credit utilization rate. If your rate is above 30%, you can lower it by focusing on paying down your debt or increasing your credit limit.
If you’re struggling to reduce your credit card usage, consider Tally. Tally is a credit card payoff app that automatically pays your balances in the most efficient way possible. Paying down your existing debt can benefit your credit utilization rate.