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

When Should You Pay Your Credit Card Bill?

Last Updated: November 13, 2023
5 min read

Key points about: when to pay 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. A late or missing credit card payment may hurt your credit score and cause you to accumulate interest.

  3. You can pay the minimum amount due, statement balance, current balance, or a custom amount.

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

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

Why you should pay your credit card bill early

There are a few reasons to consider making payments on your credit card bill before the due date.

Paying early helps you save on interest charges

Paying your credit card bill early may help you save money over time. When you carry a balance from month to month, you’re likely to get credit card interest charges. Any interest charge is added to your remaining balance. And the higher your credit card balance, the more interest you pay.

If you carry a balance from one month to the next, making payments earlier in the month could help reduce your monthly credit card interest charges and reduce compound interest charges, or the interest that you pay on interest. (Remember, this only applies if you don't make additional charges on your credit card after making a payment.)

Paying early keeps your credit card utilization in check

Lowering your credit card balance by paying early can help reduce your credit utilization rate. This is important because the lower your credit utilization ratio, the better it looks on your credit report, and according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, you should keep it below 30%. 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 (the sum of each credit limit or total available credit).

Since credit utilization determines about 30% of your credit score, according to Experian®, lowering your outstanding balance may help improve your credit score.

When to pay a credit card bill to avoid interest

The best time to pay your credit card bill to avoid interest is on or before the due date. That's because you’ll pay more in interest if you miss a credit card payment since you'll continue to accrue interest charges on your past due credit card balance. You could pay more in credit card interest than if you make at least your minimum payment by the due date. Plus, making your credit card payment on time is important because it can impact your credit score and help you avoid late fees.

If you don’t pay your credit card bill on time, you risk being charged a late payment fee. Late payments might be reported to the credit bureaus and could hurt your credit score, which could make it challenging to get credit in the future. And you could get a higher interest rate because of your late payment history. 

If you miss your payment due date, you should still try to pay your bill as soon as possible. If you think you might miss a monthly payment, reach out to your credit card issuer to see your payment options. Sometimes you can make arrangements with your credit card company before the next billing cycle begins. For example, you could arrange to make multiple payments to reduce the debt over time. 

Did you know?

A credit card balance transfer could be helpful to avoid accumulating more interest charges. Balance transfer typically come with a 0% introductory APR, which could alleviate the pressure to pay off debt quickly if you don't have cash in your bank account to pay off your credit card statement.

Email or text alerts can help you track when your credit card bill is due so you can make on-time payments. Or, set up automatic bill pay to pay a specific amount from your bank account or debit card towards your credit card statement every month.

How much should you pay on your credit card each month?

The amount you pay on your monthly credit card bill depends on your personal situation, so it’s important to understand your options.

Paying the minimum amount due

Every billing cycle, your credit card issuer sets 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 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 monthly payment, your credit card issuer may charge you a late fee or penalty interest rate. If you're having issues paying your bills, making at least the minimum payment could help get you through the month and keep your account in good standing, but you’ll likely still accumulate interest.

Paying the statement balance

Your statement balance is the total charges made during the previous billing cycle plus any outstanding balance on the account. Paying the statement balance — balance in full — covers any balance you had at the beginning of your current billing cycle.

Paying the entire statement balance each month can help card members avoid interest charges and avoid accumulating credit card debt. 

Paying your balance in full each month requires responsible budgeting and only making purchases you can afford to pay off each month.

By paying the statement balance monthly, you can take advantage of the grace period between the end of your billing cycle and your billing due date and avoid accumulating interest on purchases. So, if you have a rewards credit card, you’ll earn rewards and avoid interest.

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’s all 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 purchases already posted to your account. Your current balance doesn't include pending charges that haven’t posted to your account yet. 

Paying a custom amount

You may want to pay more than the minimum amount due but can’t afford to pay your statement balance. Or you want to pay your credit card bill throughout the month in multiple payments. You could pay a custom amount if your credit card issuer allows it.

By paying a custom amount, you choose how much you pay toward your bill. This allows you to make payments that fit your current financial situation. However, it's still important to budget and keep track of your 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 can help keep your account in good standing and help you maintain a good credit history. By paying your balance in full, you can avoid interest charges.

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