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How to lower your credit card interest rate

Published July 3, 2023
5 min read

Key Points About: Lower your credit card interest

  1. Credit card interest is the cost you pay to your card issuer for borrowing money.

  2. Your credit card issuer calculates your interest daily and then charges you the total at the end of the month if you don’t pay off your balance.

  3. You can avoid interest if you pay off your entire statement balance on your credit card bill every month.

What is credit card interest?

Credit cards are technically loans, and credit card interest is the cost you pay for borrowing money. Credit card purchase interest happens when you don't pay off your entire statement balance by the end of your billing cycle. Your purchase interest charge is typically based on your credit card's Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and the total balance owed on the card.

Did you know?

New Discover® Cardmembers can enjoy low intro APR offers. See if you’re pre-approved for a credit card offer—there’s no impact to your credit to check.

How does credit card interest work?

Why is having a low interest rate so important? Your credit card company may charge you interest on your credit card balance if you don’t pay off your card by the due date each month. The amount of money you owe can quickly go up if you have a higher interest rate because of how compounding interest works.  

What is compounding interest on a credit card?

At the end of the day, your credit card company calculates your interest for that day and adds it to your balance the next day (although you won’t be charged for it yet). This process continues—compounds—for every day of your billing cycle, so the interest from the day before becomes part of the balance for the interest calculated the next day, and so on. When the month ends, your credit card provider will add up all of the daily interest charges on your purchases and then apply it to your credit card account as an interest charge. (Note: This only applies if you don’t pay your statement balance by the due date).

Did you know?

You can use the Discover credit card interest calculator to see how adjusting your monthly payment may impact the time it takes to pay off.

So, the lower your interest rate, the less you could potentially pay in interest. Not only that, but a lower interest rate may give you the ability to pay off your debts faster. Ideally, you should pay off your credit card balance by your payment due date, but even if you can’t, if you manage to pay more than the minimum payment, you could help pay off the amount that you owe sooner.

Tips to lower your credit card interest rate

Improve your credit score

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), a higher credit score may help open the door for a lower credit card interest rate.

That’s because when you apply for credit cards, your lender may check your credit report. Many credit card companies use your scores to predict your future financial behaviors. If you have a higher credit score, it may show lenders that you’re responsible and can reliably pay your bills on time and pay back what you owe.

A low credit history may show that there is a higher risk that a person will not repay back the loan. So, one way that you may be able to get a lower interest rate is if you improve your credit score

Compare credit card offers.

You should always compare credit card offers to find the best credit card for your unique situation. Some credit cards may have higher interest rates than others. If you have a good credit score, it may be worth it to look into the best low-interest credit cards.

Get a new 0% APR credit card

If you qualify for it, you can apply for a new credit card with a 0% APR introductory offer, which means you won’t pay interest on certain transactions for a period of time. A 0% APR card may come in handy if you want to finance a large purchase or want to pay off credit card debt quicker. If you get a 0% APR card, be sure to review your card terms to be aware of all of the rules that apply to the offer.

Get a Balance Transfer

Another way you can potentially lower your credit card interest is through a balance transfer card. A balance transfer credit card allows you to move the balance of a credit card with a high interest rate to a new card with low or no interest.

The immediate benefit is that you get a lower rate, which may allow you to pay off your credit card debt quicker. But you should also keep in mind that a balance transfer card usually comes with a balance transfer fee, which may vary between 3%-5%. You should review your finances to see if a balance transfer card will help you manage your credit card debt. Additionally, you should also keep in mind that the 0% APR offer is only temporary. You still have to pay off the balance before the introductory offer expires, or your standard interest rate will kick in.

How to avoid paying interest on a credit card

No matter your interest rate, you may still be able to avoid paying interest on your credit card with good credit management. For example, your card’s interest rates won't affect you if you pay off your monthly balance in full. You can do this by taking advantage of your grace period.

Your grace period is the time between the end of your billing cycle to your payment due date. During this time, you can avoid paying interest on new purchases if you pay your balance in full by the due date. Your grace period may vary depending on your credit card company. According to the Federal Trade Commission and the Credit CARD Act of 2009, your grace period will be no less than 21 days. If you’re a Discover Cardmember, your grace period will be at least 25 days from the end of the billing period, or a minimum of 23 days for billing periods that start in February.

Can you lose your grace period?

When you pay off your total balance before the end of your grace period, you can avoid interest on some transactions. But, if you carry a balance, your card issuer may not apply your grace period, meaning you’ll still pay interest on the outstanding balance and on new purchases. You should check your credit card's terms and conditions to understand how your issuer treats the grace period.

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  • Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.