When Is the Best Time to Pay My Credit Card Bill?
Having credit card debt can feel like a burden, especially when it’s just one more bill you have to remember to factor into your monthly budget. However, knowing when to pay your credit card bill may be able to help you save money in the long run.
Of course, paying your credit card by the due date may seem like the obvious answer. But if you have enough money in your bank account now, you may be tempted to pay off the balance early and let that bill fade like a bad memory.
While neither of those answers is wrong, you probably want the option that benefits you the most. Here, we’ll review the best time to pay your credit card bill, so you can get one step closer to freeing yourself of that pesky debt and having more money to save or spend on what you want.
When should you pay your credit card?
If you want to keep things basic, make the minimum payment for your credit card bill by the monthly due date. This helps you avoid late fees from bulking up your balance.
If you want to take things one step further, you can also pay your balance in full before the due date. This not only helps you avoid a late fee, but it prevents interest charges from racking up, and you get rid of that chunk of debt for good. It's a win-win all around.
That said, paying it off in full isn't a reality for everyone, especially with the cost of living on the rise. But, if given the chance, paying your bill off early in any capacity can positively impact your credit score and save you some money in the long run.
Why due dates are important
Keeping track of your credit card's due date is important because it's the deadline for making the minimum payment on your card. If you miss a payment or pay late, the world won't end, but your card issuer may dish out penalties, such as late fees or negative credit reporting.
Payment history accounts for a whopping 35% of your FICO® score, which is the score used most by lenders. It can take at least 30 days for a late payment to show up on your credit report, and sometimes lenders won't report late payments if they receive one before the 30 days are up. However, even one late payment can significantly impact your score, and not in a good way.
The best thing to do is keep track of your credit card due dates, whether it's marking it on your calendar or keeping a trusty sticky note on your desk. This helps you avoid any financial consequences and pay your debt quicker.
Breakdown of credit card billing cycles
To keep track of due dates, it may be helpful to know what the credit card billing cycle looks like. A credit card's billing cycle is the period of time from one payment due date to the next. The length can vary, but a typical billing cycle is 30 days, and any transactions made during that time are included in your billing statement.
Your billing statement is a document containing the balance carried over from your last credit card bill and any new purchases you've made since then. Your total credit card balance determines the amount of your minimum payment. The higher the balance, the higher your minimum payment will be.
This statement is also where you'll find your due date. The due date is usually about 2 weeks after the statement closing date and will be the same each month, so you won't have to worry about any unpleasant surprises. You can make a payment anytime before that date to avoid a late fee.
At some point, the card issuer will report your balance to the credit bureaus. You won't be informed about the reporting date like you are with closing and due dates. However, this will likely happen around the time of your statement closing date.
Can you change your due date?
It may seem like there's a certain date of the month when every bill possible is due at the same time. If you're drowning in bills and just don't have the funds to stay afloat until your next paycheck, you may be able to change your due date to a more convenient time.
Usually, all you have to do is ask your card issuer for a different date. It may take a few billing cycles for the new date to kick in, but you can rest easier knowing the change is coming.
It's also important to know that while there's nothing wrong with changing your due date, the credit issuer may view it as a red flag. It may be concerned you're changing the due date because you're at risk of not being able to make the payments.
However, if you absolutely cannot commit to the given due date, changing it is often better than consistently missing payments.
How paying early can help you
Has someone ever told you that carrying a balance from month to month can improve your credit score? While there are many ways to improve your credit, this method is not one of them. All it does is cost you more in interest, and when you already have debt, accruing more may be the last thing you want.
If you're still wondering, "When should I pay my credit card bill?", paying early, specifically before the statement closing date, may offer some of the best personal benefits. Remember, your credit card account information isn't continuously updated. It's only reported once per month.
To make that early payment count, get it in before the statement closing date. This reduces the balance reported to credit bureaus and may give your credit score a boost.
Improving your credit score can lead to more approvals and lower interest rates from lenders in the future. If you've been struggling to build credit, the Varo Believe Card can help improve your score after only a couple of on-time payments.1 Plus, you won't have to worry about interest or hidden fees.
Improving credit isn't the only way that making early credit card payments can help you. Let's explore some other cool perks.
Paying off your full balance each month instead of just the minimum payment can reduce the amount you pay in interest. Credit cards typically have a grace period where interest isn't charged on new purchases.
If you pay your balance off in full each month, you'll maintain this grace period and never have to worry about paying interest. Sounds great, right?
Maybe it's not always realistic, and that's okay. If you do have to carry debt over into the next month, paying early can reduce interest costs since interest is calculated based on your daily balance. Reducing your daily balance earlier in the month means you'll be charged less in interest, and this can make your balance and minimum payments more manageable.
Lowers credit utilization
Your credit utilization ratio is the amount you owe compared to your available credit. For example, if you have a $6,000 credit limit and your balance is $3,000, your credit utilization ratio is 50%. A lower utilization ratio can positively impact your credit score, while a higher ratio may negatively affect your score.
Your credit score isn't the only benefit of a lower ratio. Paying off a balance early could open up more available credit for emergencies or other purchases. It also reduces your risk of going over its limit or having your card declined.
Prevents late payments
This one may be obvious, but paying your credit card early means you won't forget to pay it. When you have multiple bills to pay throughout the month, including your mortgage or rent, car payment, loan payment, and utilities, it can be easy for a single bill to slip through the cracks.
If most of your bills are due earlier in the month and you're able to swing it financially, it may be ideal to pay your credit card at the same time. This helps get it out of the way, so you can sit back and relax for the rest of the month. You also avoid late charges, which means more money in your pocket.
Is making multiple payments worth it?
Making multiple payments can be helpful if your goal is to pay off your debt as quickly as possible. It can also serve as a good budgeting strategy if you're prone to forgetting or mixing up due dates for your bills.
There are no limits to how many payments you can make to your credit card each month. If you want to chip away at the balance bit by bit by paying a smaller amount daily or weekly rather than one big monthly payment, you do you. This can make it easier to manage your finances, free up available credit, and avoid late payment penalties.
That said, multiple payments definitely aren't necessary. If you're making your monthly payment by the due date, there may be no reason to switch up your payment strategy at all.
Tips for managing your credit card bill
Whether this is your first credit card bill or you've been down this road before, having a strategy for managing your bill can ensure you never miss a payment. Here are a few tips for keeping track of your credit card payments:
Keep a budget: Outline a budget detailing how much you can realistically spend each month, and track any purchases you make. Even if you have a large credit line, you don't want to spend more than what you think you can pay. Overspending can lead to interest charges, and you certainly don't want that.
Monitor your credit card balance: You don't have to wait for a statement to check your balance. At any time, you can log on to your online account and see your purchases and how much you owe to avoid surprises. Monitoring your balance is also a good way of spotting unauthorized purchases.
Set up automatic payments: If you've been guilty of missing payments in the past, it may be helpful to set up automatic payments for at least the minimum amount as a quick and easy solution. And if extra money becomes available, you can make an additional payment anytime.
Sign up for text or email alerts: Life gets busy, and it can be difficult to remember to check your balance from time to time. Receiving text or email alerts from your card issuer about new purchases or upcoming payments can serve as great reminders to pay your bill.
Make a plan for unmanageable balances: If your balance seems to keep getting higher due to interest charges or back-to-back emergencies, don't panic. You can always transfer the balance to a new credit card offering a 0% interest promotion or a personal loan with a lower interest rate. Varo Advance can also spot you some cash to hold you over for a small fee.2
Let's refresh your memory real quick. You don't need to be an expert in organization to routinely make your credit card payments. Honestly, you just need to do what's best for you.
If making the minimum monthly payment by the due date is the best strategy for maintaining a budget, then that's the best time to pay your credit card bill. If the goal is to get rid of the bill as quickly as possible and forget it ever happened, paying early or making multiple payments may be something to think about.
Either way, Varo has your back. Check out our no-hidden fee banking options today to help kickstart your journey towards better money management.
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