Card usage, also known as credit utilization, relates to the percentage of available credit that you actually use. For example, if you add the limits of all your credit cards and have $5,000 in total limits, and you have a current total balance of $600, your 'usage' is 12%. As a general rule, it is good to keep this figure below 30%.
Your card usage is a highly influential factor in regards to your credit score. Lower card usage indicates to lenders that you aren't heavily reliant on credit, demonstrating some level of financial responsibility. Keeping your credit utilization low can have a significantly positive impact on your credit score.
Tips on keeping your score low:
Make multiple monthly payments towards your credit card balances. If you're noticing your credit utilization is typically high, you can combat this by making more than one payment per month. That way your balance never gets particularly high.
Ask your card issuer when they report data to credit bureaus. Typically credit card issuers only report your data to credit bureaus once a month. If you call their customer support team and learn what day this is you can plan around it. By paying off your balances or as much as you can before your data is sent off, your credit utilization will be lower.
Ask for higher card limits. By increasing your limits without changing your spending habits, you can reduce your credit utilization. You're most likely to be approved if you have good payment history; however, be wary that this can sometimes result in a hard inquiry. You can confirm this with your provider prior to requesting a limit increase if needed.