While there may be certain life crises that require you to charge a large amount — like a medical emergency or an unexpected auto repair — you must always keep an eye on your credit card balance and avoid hitting the limit.

I’m Adam Levin and this is the Wall Street Journal credit minute.

If you’re forced to put an unexpected expense on your credit card, try to pay down the balance as quickly as possible. Creditors look very closely at the percentage of available credit that you’re using. If you use more than 10% for any meaningful period of time, it’ll hurt your credit score — because a big part of your credit score is determined by the amount of credit you’re actually using. If your credit score declines, your interest rates may go up and your access to credit will become more limited.

I’m Adam Levin. Come visit us at Credit.com and learn how to take control of your credit.