Man pays his credit card bill on a computer with his son.

When Should You Pay Your Credit Card Bill?

Published December 22, 2022
7 min read

Key Points About: Best Time to Paying Credit Card Bills

  1. The best time to pay your credit card bill is by the due date—but paying earlier may help you avoid interest fees.

  2. Late or missing credit card payments may hurt your credit score and make it harder for you to get credit in the future.

  3. You can choose the amount you pay on your credit card each month, but paying off the statement balance allows you to reap more benefits.

When is the best time to pay your credit card bill?

The best time to pay your credit card is by the due date. But, if you’re looking for ways to improve your credit score or save on interest, the earlier you can pay your credit card bill, the better.

Why you should pay your credit card bill early

Paying early helps you save on interest charges

Paying your credit card bill early may help you save more money over time. When you carry a balance from month to month on your card, you’re likely to get credit card interest charges. Which are added to the amount you still have left to pay and become part of your balance. And the higher your credit card balance, the more you’ll end up paying in interest.

If you carry a balance from one month to the next, making payments earlier in the month will help you reduce your monthly credit card interest charges. Not only will you save on interest paid in that month, but you will also reduce the amount of compound interest (interest that you pay on interest) that you pay over time. (Remember, this only applies if you aren’t making additional charges on your credit card after you make your payment.)

Paying early keeps your credit card utilization in check

Lowering your credit card balance by paying early can help lower your credit card utilization ratio. This is important because the lower your credit utilization ratio (preferably under 30%), the better it looks on your credit report. But what is credit utilization? It’s a percentage that shows how much you owe (credit card debt) vs how much credit you have been given (line of credit or available credit). Your credit utilization is calculated by dividing what you owe across all your credit cards by your total credit card limit.

Since your credit bill payment history determines about 35% of your credit score, lowering your card balance may help improve your credit score.

What happens if I make a late payment?

You’ll pay more in interest: When you miss a credit card payment, you will continue to accrue interest on your credit card balance. This means you could  end up paying more in credit card interest than if you make at least your minimum payment by the due date.

Late payment fees: If you don’t pay your credit card bill on time, you run the risk of being charged late fees. (Discover it® offers late payment forgiveness—no late fee on your first late payment. See rates, fees, and other info to learn more.)

Higher interest rates: You may get higher interest rates in the future because of your late payment history.

Impact to credit score: Any late payments that you make may be reported to the credit bureaus and could hurt your credit score. That could make it challenging to get credit in the future.

If you miss your payment due date, you should still try to pay your bill as soon as you can. If you feel you’ll likely to miss a monthly payment, it’s important to reach out to your credit card company to see what payment options you have.

Sometimes, if you pay what you owe or make arrangements with your credit card company before the next billing cycle, your missed payment may not be reported to the credit bureaus.

Did you know?

Email or text alerts can help you keep track of when your credit call bill is due so you can make on-time payments. You can also set up automatic bill payments so that a specific amount of money to pay your credit card bill is automatically withdrawn from your checking account at a certain time every month.

How can I check my credit card account balance?

Regularly keeping track of your credit card balance will help you avoid late payments and pay your bill on time. You can find your current balance by logging into your credit card issuer’s online portal or by calling their customer service number. Some credit card issuers, like Discover, have mobile apps that make it easy to check your credit card balance and make payments to your account.

How much should I pay on my credit card each month?

There are a few ways that you can make payments on your credit card each month to avoid late payments. You can pay online using your credit card website or mobile app, you can call the credit card company to pay by phone, or, in some cases, you can mail a check to your credit card issuer.

The amount that you choose to pay on your credit card bill each month will depend on your personal situation, so it’s important to understand all the options available to you.

Paying the minimum amount due

Every billing cycle, your credit card issuer will set a minimum amount you must pay to keep your account in good standing. The minimum amount due is usually a small portion of your overall balance, but it’s the least that you’re required to pay to keep from accumulating fees or putting your account at risk.

If you don’t make at least the minimum payment each month, your credit card issuer may charge you a late fee or give you a penalty interest rate. While many creditors won’t report your missed payment to the credit bureaus until it is 30 days past due, it is still important to keep in mind.

If you are having issues paying your bills, making at least the minimum credit card bill payment can help get you through the month and keep your account in good standing.

Paying the statement balance

Your statement balance is the total charges made during the previous billing cycle, plus any outstanding balance that you already had on the account. Paying the statement balance is the same as paying your balance in full and will eliminate any balance you had up to the beginning of your current billing cycle.

Paying the entire statement balance each month is one of the best ways to pay your credit card and avoid too much credit card debt. You can take advantage of the benefits of your card without incurring interest on any purchase balance you carry over. Paying your statement balance each month requires responsible budgeting and only purchasing what you can afford to pay off in full at the end of the month.

If you always pay the statement balance every month, you can take advantage of the grace period between the end of your billing cycle and your billing due date. During this period, your purchases for the previous billing cycle will not collect interest. In other words—if you make your full payment due every month, you avoid accumulating interest on purchases.

Paying the current balance

Your current balance is the most up-to-date version of your credit card balance. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all that you owe.

If you use your credit card frequently, your current balance may differ from your statement balance. That’s because unlike your statement balance, your current balance reflects the purchases and charges that have actually been posted to your account to date.

Paying your current balance zeroes out your credit card balance up to the date you paid it off. However, your current balance does not include pending charges that haven’t been posted to your account yet. Paying off your statement balance requires careful spending habits and strict budgeting.

Paying a custom amount

There are times you may want to pay more than your minimum balance but can’t afford to pay your statement balance. Or you want to pay your credit card bill a little at a time throughout the month. You may be able to pay a custom amount if your credit card company allows it.

When you pay a custom amount, you choose how much you’re paying toward your credit card. Paying in custom amounts allows you greater flexibility, and you can make payments that fit your current financial situation. However, it is still important to keep track of your actual due date to avoid late payments or underpaying.

No matter how much you choose to pay on your credit card, making at least the minimum payment by the due date will help keep your account in good standing and help you maintain a good credit history.

You can help yourself stay on track by setting up email or text alerts that will notify you when your payment is due. Or you can set up automatic payments to make sure you make your monthly payments. Taking these actions will help ensure that your payments are received on time.

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