Key takeaways

  • Your credit score is determined based on your current usage of credit, including factors like your payment history and your credit utilization ratio.
  • Something called 'high credit' can also show up on your credit reports, even though this metric is based on past usage you cannot change.
  • Fortunately, these high credit numbers should not play a role in your current credit score or stand in the way of improving your credit, if you need to.

Your credit scores may seem like mysterious numbers plucked from thin air, but that’s only because such a wide range of factors come into play when determining them. FICO scores, for example, take five different categories into account, including payment history, new credit,  credit mix, the age of your credit and the amount you owe in relation to your credit limits. When you consider all of these details and how they can change over time, it’s no wonder credit scores can feel confusing and unpredictable.

That said, there are also some data points that don’t directly impact your credit scores, but may still show up on your credit reports. “High credit” is one such detail that can fall into this category.

What is high credit on your credit report?

High credit on your credit report may also be called “high balance” or “original amount.” This figure can be listed for each account on your credit report, and generally refers to the highest monthly balance or highest amount of credit you have owed on a specific credit card account or loan during a particular period of time, as determined by the bank.

Banks and credit card issuers often determine high credit using their own set of criteria. When it comes to credit cards, for example, high credit may be the highest balance you’ve carried on your credit card over the last 12, 24 or 36 months. With auto loans, personal loans and other non-revolving accounts, the high credit amount is generally the original amount you borrowed on your loan.

How does high credit affect your credit score?

Unlike credit utilization, the high credit numbers shown on your credit report should not have an impact on your credit score. Even having a high amount of debt does not directly impact your credit score — it’s your credit utilization ratio that can affect your score.

Credit utilization is the amount of available credit you’re currently using, compared to your credit limit. For example, if you have a balance of $200 on a credit card with a $1,000 credit limit, this means your credit utilization is 20 percent. This factor makes up 30 percent of your credit score; typically, a higher credit utilization ratio means a lower credit score, as lenders can view carrying higher amounts of debt as a liability.

Having your high balance or high credit listed on your credit report is different than having high credit utilization. As noted above, the high balance listed on your credit report is the highest balance you have ever had on a given card, and it does not carry weight as far as your VantageScore or FICO score is concerned.

What to do about high credit on your report

If a high credit notification on your credit report is also tied to having a high credit utilization, then it might be damaging your credit score. There are a few options worth considering in order to take control over your debt:

  • Get on top of your monthly payments: This is easier said than done, but if you can manage to pay more than the minimum payment, you will have an easier time paying off your credit cards. When you only pay the minimum payment each month, compounding interest can make it feel as if your small minimum payments aren’t making a dent in your total balance.
  • Consider a balance transfer: A balance transfer credit card is a solid option when you’re facing a high balance or high interest rates. With a balance transfer card, you can move over a balance to a card with an introductory 0 percent APR offer. This allows you to manage and pay off your debt more easily while taking advantage of no interest charges for a predetermined period of time set by the issuer. Some of the best balance transfer credit cards have introductory 0 percent APR offers lasting 12 to 21 months, although balance transfer fees may apply.
  • Use cash or debit while paying off your credit card: If you’ve racked up a significant balance on your credit card, it is time to stop adding to the balance before you find yourself in even more debt you can’t pay off. Try to use only debit or cash until you can pay down your credit card balance.

The bottom line

Although high balances may be listed for the different accounts on your credit report, they do not typically affect your credit score. If your score is lower than you’d like, focus your attention on the elements you can control.

For the best possible results with your credit, aim to pay all your bills early or on time, and keep your credit utilization ratio below 10 percent (or 30 percent, at maximum) of your available credit. Monitor your credit score and credit reports to track your progress and prevent mistakes from dragging your score down unnecessarily.