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

Assuming you're paying your bill in full every month, you can maximize the time you have use of money without having to pay interest on it.

By Credit.com Oct 29, 2013 11:53AM

This post comes from Christine DiGangi at partner site Credit.com.


Credit.com on MSN MoneyWhen it comes to credit cards, there are dozens of strategies for making the most out of their benefits, and opinions on such tactics vary. But there is one best time to pay a credit card bill: before it’s due.


Woman surprised (© Purestock/SuperStock)Consumers with late payments on their credit reports could suffer in other areas of finance, like getting a mortgage or auto loan. That’s because a late payment could really hurt credit scores, which lenders use to determine loan qualification and interest rates. Individuals can track the effects their habits have on their credit by monitoring their credit scores using free online tools, such as Credit.com's Credit Report Card, and by closely reviewing their free annual credit reports.


A well-rounded credit card strategy involves more than just making timely payments, however. It’s also best to pay your statement in full each month, not only to avoid getting into a cycle of debt, but also because it allows you to maximize the benefits you get from rewards credit cards, if you have them.


Some cards also feature a grace period for cardholders who pay their bills in full each month, which can give the consumer a bit more time to pay for a purchase without accruing interest.

 

"If you time it right, you can get more than a month interest-free," said Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education for Credit.com. "For this strategy to work, you start with a zero balance then pay your bill in full. When you carry any balance over to the next month, you lose the benefit of the grace period."


It works like this: Say, for example, the billing cycle for January closes Jan. 20, and the bill for that statement is due Feb. 18 (your dates might be different). This consumer’s purchases on Jan. 20 will need to be paid by Feb. 18, but any transactions on Jan. 21 won’t come due until after the next billing cycle closes out on Feb. 20. For that Jan. 21 purchase, the consumer has until March 18 to pay, without accruing interest. That’s nearly two months of interest-free financing.


Thanks the the CARD Act, due dates and closing dates must remain consistent from month to month, so it's not difficult to keep track, but as with all financial decisions, it’s important to understand a strategy and its impact before implementing it.


Keep in mind the difference between a statement balance and total balance — paying in full means paying the entire balance from statement start to end (in our example, that would be Jan. 21 to Feb. 20). Detweiler said it’s important to not get confused, because all you have to do to avoid interest is pay the statement balance each month.


More from Credit.com:




 

111Comments
Oct 29, 2013 8:26PM
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if you need to read this article to know when to pay your bill then you should not have a credit card
Oct 29, 2013 9:13PM
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"When is the best time to pay... credit card bill?"

Seriously??????

This article could have been written in one sentence. Good grief!!!!

Oct 29, 2013 8:41PM
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Interest on checking is practically zero. Pay the thing in full the day it comes and be done with it. 
Oct 29, 2013 10:54PM
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Another useless, dumb, nothing article compliments of MSN!

Is the surprised lady in the picture the author?

Oct 29, 2013 10:13PM
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Again, if you have to read this article to know-to quote Ron White, STUPID IS FOREVER! Not a pill you can take, book you can read It's FOREVER.
Oct 30, 2013 9:10AM
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When to pay a credit Card bill?"  AT THE END OF THE MONTH!  If you can't do that, stop using the credit card!
Oct 30, 2013 11:28AM
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I agree that this is a non-article & general waste of time.  There was one bit of info that may be helpful, that being if you use your card the day after the billing cycle ends, you get 2 months of free credit.  It may be helpful if you're having cash flow issues, but if that's the case, um, maybe you want to rethink those purchases in the first place.
Oct 30, 2013 9:55AM
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Perhaps this article was for college freshmen.....
Oct 30, 2013 1:50PM
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Also, water is wet and the sky is blue.
Oct 30, 2013 1:47PM
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I feel stupider after reading this article.
Oct 30, 2013 12:52PM
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i been doing this my whole life.  CC companies do not make a cent off me in interest.
Oct 30, 2013 11:02AM
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Wow what an excellent & informative article. And here I've been doing it wrong all these years. Maybe that's the reason I'm typing this post from underneath a bridge right now. 
Oct 30, 2013 9:38AM
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I pay mine in person on the due date, as I have for the past 33 years. To us credit cards exist so we can accumulate frequent flyer miles.
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Is it me or have articles on MSN become more and more ridiculous? Like, when should you pay your credit card? There was another article on what not to do after retiring. And who even spends times writing these articles? It really is a shame, there could be more interesting topics to talk about.
Oct 30, 2013 6:28AM
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Since I get 1.5% interest on my checking, I like to keep the balance as high as possible for as long as possible. I used to wait until after the 1st to pay the cc off each month. I then figured it probably didnt matter due to how they calculate the interest. I belive it is based on the monthly average balance so it didn't matter when I paid the bill.

 

Now I just pay it off as soon as I get the bill. I just use it for the cash back. It's not much but it adds up over the year.

Oct 30, 2013 1:22PM
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I recently had a large co-pay for medical lab work. I used a rewards card to pay it. When the credit card bill comes, I will pay it in full from checking and collect the rewards points!

Oct 30, 2013 3:01PM
Oct 30, 2013 2:08PM
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I have one credit card and I didn't even want it. I was perfectly happy just paying cash for everything, that way I'd be forced to only buy what I could afford. But my parents made me get a credit card in college because they said I needed to establish good credit. I only use it for online purchases and right after I make an online purchase, I immediately log into my bank account and pay off the card online. So when I get my credit card statement, it'll say:

 

10/30/2013 1:00pm Amazon.com $42

10/30/2013 1:07pm Payment $42

Current balance due $0.

 

And every single one of my credit card bills are like that. I figure if I can't pay for it right away, I shouldn't be buying it at all.

Oct 30, 2013 12:49PM
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Hold on to money you owe as long as possible provided there are no consequences and no benefits in paying earlier.

 

1. Late fee is a consequence

2. Interest is a consequence

3. Delaying purchases until after the statement date means you get a whole cycle to hold on longer.

 

That's about it folks.

Oct 30, 2013 12:12PM
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I use to (well before adulthood kicked in) have a credit card strictly for gas in my car per month and a random night out on occasion..but then with being more of a adult and taking on more responsibility it goes to fixing things here and there, using it to pay off something, etc...Credit Cards are helpful to a point but getting out of the mountain of debt is always a pain in the butt

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