7 big money myths

Carrying a balance improves credit scores

The credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) do consider account balances as part of your credit score, but it’s not the amount you owe that matters: The bureaus are concerned with utilization, or the ratio of what you owe to your available credit limits.

Keeping your utilization under 30% will help improve your credit score, according to Maxine Sweet, the vice president of public education for Experian.

"If your balance is too high (compared to your available credit), it can actually hurt your credit score," Sweet says. "The best way to build a positive credit score is to get a credit card and pay the balance off at the end of the month."

Even if your utilization rate is low enough that it doesn’t hurt your credit score, carrying a balance has financial consequences: "You pay finance charges, which can be quite steep, on unpaid balances," Sweet notes.