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43 million Americans wrongly carry credit card balance to improve credit score, report finds

The report by CreditCards.com found that 22 percent of U.S. consumers made the mistake of believing that carrying a balance on their credit cards would help improve their credit scores. (Associated Press)
The report by CreditCards.com found that 22 percent of U.S. consumers made the mistake of believing that carrying a balance on their credit cards would help improve their credit scores. (Associated Press)
By Mark Skoneki Orlando Sentinal

About 43 million Americans wrongly believe that carrying a balance on their credit cards will help improve their credit scores, a report released Monday shows.

The report by CreditCards.com found that 22 percent of U.S. consumers made this mistake, which forces cardholders to pay more in interest, often at high rates.

“It’s painful to know that so many millions of Americans are essentially attempting to pay their card issuers to improve their credit scores,” Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com senior industry analyst, said in a news release about the study. “The fact of the matter is that carrying a balance will never improve your credit. With interest rates at an all-time high, cardholders should aim to pay off their bills in full every month, and, more importantly, pay on time.”

Millennials (ages 18-37) were the group most likely to do this at 28 percent, followed by Generation X members (ages 38-53) at 25 percent. About 16 percent of baby boomers and the elderly fell victim to this practice, the report said.

The report also found that 42 percent of people admitted to paying late, often because they forgot or were traveling.

Still, 35 percent said they were late because they didn’t have the money to pay the bill. Millennials, at 53 percent, especially those ages 18-27 at 61 percent, were the most likely to miss payments because of a lack of money, according to the study.

However, it’s not a good idea to simply put the card in a drawer and not use it, credit experts say. To establish and build credit, it’s important to buy things with a card, then pay off the balance each month.

The online study was done by GfK Custom Research North America. The sample consists of 1,000 completed interviews, with a margin of error of 3 percent.

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