**I'm thinking there may still be some confusion, but bear with me if I'm wrong.**
The advice in that link from BofA is still consistent with my example above. "Paying in full," at least as I've always understood and used it, means nothing more than paying whatever the last statement says is the outstanding balance
within the grace period, which avoids interest charges.
In my example above, making one $900 payment the day you get the January statement, using the card regularly to build up $1,000 in charges, then paying that $1,000 balance off in March would constitute paying in full. The only reason to pay MORE than the last statement's balance is to manipulate the utilizatuon that gets reported. In my example, say the credit limit of the card is $1,500. Making that extra $900 payment into February's purchases would bring the utilization down from 66.7% to 6.7%. Making an extra $1,000 payment would result in 0% utilization.
If you would like a link, here is one from FICO
that's often referenced. "Amounts Owed" is the relevant category. 66.7% makes for a high debt-to-credit ratio. General advice is 30% should be your maximum utilization and less than 10% is considered good, but I don't know if this comes from anywhere authoritative or if it's simply what many people have gleaned over time as a rule of thumb (FICO doesn't like to reveal much about it's scoring method and for good reason - it is a cash cow). Credit Karma explicity recommends a low, nonzero utilization, but to be fair that is according to their model. Perhaps it isn't as much of an issue in the FICO model, and perhaps others out there know better than I.
Many seem to conflate "letting a balance report" for credit scoring purposes with "carrying a balance." This isn't an issue with a card that sees regular use (meaning at least some purchase activity each billing cycle). You'll pay last statement's balance in full (therefore, by definition, you WON'T carry a balnce or pay interest) while letting the current cycle's purchases report to the CRAs.
When you say "leave a small amount on your card so it gets reported," to me that means pay off MOST of the statement balance, but don't quite pay in full so something gets reported. This simply won't be an issue if you use at least one of your credit cards at all in a given cycle. The only way nothing gets reported is either:
- there is no purchasing activity for that cycle (you make no purchases and either pay off last month's balance or there was no balance last month to begin with)
- You pay last cycle's balance but also make purchases this period and pay off those. In this case you have to pay the last statement plus any purchases before the next statement cutoff hits (and abstain from making any purchases a few days before the cutoff so nothing gets posted before you can pay it.) To return to my example one last time, this would mean paying the $900 statement balance plus the full $1,000 in purchases.
Personally, most of my cards report 0 balances because most of them are not used in any given billing cycle. I don't typically make extra payments too far beyond statement balances because I've gotten to the point where my credit limits are high enough that it isn't a concern. But if I were planning on applying for a mortgage soon? I'd make sure overall and all individual utilizations were under 10% just to be safe, even if it is the credit enthusiasts' equivalent of an old wive's tale. If my CLs were still in the quadruple digits, manipulating utilization would be a bigger concern.
**Sorry if I went into way more detail than you need. This does seem to be a topic of frequent confusion, however, so hopefully it will at least be of some value to others reading.**