"BTW this is contrary to the advice of my loan officer at our credit union, who advised I should keep a small balance on each card, 10-15% of the limit. Confusing. Why zero, vs. a small amount?Either you misunderstood the loan officer, or the loan officer doesn't understand how credit card activity is reported to the credit bureaus for use in credit scoring. There is no need to CARRY a balance from month to month (paying interest) in order to have an account balance reported to the credit bureaus and show the card is being used. Most card issuers report the balance that is on your statement each month, or sometimes once each quarter. There are some credit card issuers that report based on other criteria, like the highest balance that occurred each month or the balance on a specific date each month. You may want to check with the card issuer to see how they report to the credit bureaus.Once the activity is reported, there is no need to continue to carry the balance - paying it off in a timely manner will not affect what was reported.The one card that is close to max will be paid down, if not off, on thursday. I use it a lot for online purchases. It isn't always close to max.In order to have the highest credit score possible, you should not use more than the 10% - 15% of the available credit on card that your loan officer mentioned. You may want to make multiple payments during the month in order to keep the balance down to that 10% - 15% level. Coming close to maxing out a credit card generally has a negative impact on your credit score, which is contrary to what you said you are trying to accomplish. Another way to manage this would be to just not charge more than the 10% - 15% per month.AJ"Thank you. That is exactly what she said, that we should NOT pay them off entirely, that we should "leave a little" on each card. So, I am guessing she does not understand how it works, and neither did I. Now I am more informed, THANK you. This is the kind of information I needed. I will just use my ATM card in the future for online purchases, and maybe just use the card to buy gasoline or something, keeping everything at 15% or less. That should be easy to manage, with only 5 cards and low limits. Wow, I feel(felt) so ignorant! Oh well, live and learn. So, going forward, should I wait until my score increases and add a card, or request a credit limit increase on an existing card, to help boost my score? Credit Karma website shows I could increase my score by 35pts or so, by getting a credit limit increase of just $200-$300. Also, the same boost for adding a card with a $500 limit. Either/or??