Timing is really everything when it comes to most parts of life, including when it comes to paying your credit card each month. If you make a late payment, not only will you likely face a late fee, you may also damage your credit risk. Late payments can also lead to an increased interest rate.
Yes it is necessary to pay your credit card on time, however, it is also important to know when the best time is to make a payment. By paying on the right day of the month, you can minimize the amount of interest that you’re charged. Keep reading to learn some of the best times to pay your credit card to minimize fees, interest, and other charges.
Before the Due Date
Paying on time is a good start, but there are even more benefits to making a credit card payment before the due date. Making at least the minimum payment before the due date ensures that you avoid late payment fees and keeps your account and credit in good standing.
Making a late payment, even if just by a few minutes, is likely to cost you a late fee which ranges from $25 to $35, depending on the credit card company. If you make an extremely late payment (60 days past the due date) you may trigger what’s known as the penalty rate. Certain credit card companies will also require you to forfeit any rewards you’ve earned if you make a late payment.
Earlier in the Billing Cycle
If you’re lucky enough to have a credit card payment that’s due later in the billing cycle, you may simply strive to pay before the due date. But, by paying earlier in the billing cycle, you can reduce the finance charges (interest charges) that you’re subject to. This is especially true if you don’t make any other charges to the credit card during the billing cycle.
The finance charge is the cost of carrying a balance on your credit card. Any unpaid balance that exists between billing cycles is subject to a finance charge. The finance charge is based on the approved APR credit card rate.
So why should you pay early?
Credit card issuers use the average of daily balance method to calculate your finance charges. So the sooner you pay the balance, the lower the finance charge will be.
Before the Account Statement Closing Date
Each month lenders and credit card companies report credit card balances to each of the credit bureaus. If you want a lower balance to be reported, be sure to make a payment before the account statement closing date. By making a payment before balances are reported, you avoid the risk of increased credit utilization which often results in a lower credit score.
Making payments before the account statement closing date is extremely helpful if you plan to apply for a major loan before the next account statement closing date.
Another way to ensure a lower balance is reported to the credit bureaus is to pay off your credit card and then avoid any new purchases before the next account statement closing date.
Before a Large Purchase
If you’re planning to charge a pretty large amount to your credit card, the first thing you’ll want to do is to make as big of a payment as possible. Carrying a balance and then making a large purchase on the card has a huge impact on credit utilization which will decrease your credit score.
Make an effort to pay down your balance as much as possible before making a large purchase. This way you can prevent a credit utilization spike and protect your credit score from being too heavily impacted.
As Soon As You Get Paid
Bills are a part of life and while it’s nice to be able to spend your paycheck on yourself, one of the first things you’ll want to do after getting paid is to make a credit card payment. This way you can ensure that you have the money to make a payment.
To make things easier for yourself and to ensure you never make a late payment, be sure to sign up for automatic payments.
These payments are scheduled each month (or in whichever duration you choose), and come out of your bank account automatically. This takes the guesswork and remembering out of paying your credit card bill.
While your goal may be to simply make credit card payments on time, there are times within your billing cycle that are more ideal than others. Keep these payment options in mind to minimize the amount of interest and other fees that you face each month.