Paying your credit card might seem like a small task, but it’s a crucial one. Getting into the habit of paying your bill on time every month can have an impact on your financial well-being.
In this article, we’ll break down the different ways you can pay your credit card bill, why you should always pay on time and some tips for setting yourself up for success.
Why you should pay your credit card bill on time
Each credit card has a billing cycle that lasts about a month. Once this billing cycle ends, your credit card issuer will send you a monthly statement. This statement includes your account activity, your minimum payment due and a due date. This due date does not change from month to month, so you’ll always know when it’s coming up.
It’s important to pay at least your minimum payment on time every month. On-time payments are one important aspect of building and maintaining a positive credit history. Missing payments can tarnish your credit score for years and could affect your creditworthiness.
Let’s break down a few reasons you’ll want to be consistent with your credit card payments.
- You avoid penalty APRs or late fees: Paying at least your minimum payment on time each month means you’ll avoid any late fees or higher APRs, which will only add to your total outstanding balance.
- Establish a better credit score: Using your credit card and paying your balance on time will help you establish a positive payment history. Payment history is a key element in determining your credit score. Consistent payments over time may improve your credit score and increase your chances of being approved for credit cards, a mortgage or auto loan.
- Potential for better borrowing terms: Paying your bill on time shows lenders that you’re capable of managing your debt. This may lead to things like credit line increases, or more favorable APRs on future credit cards or loans you apply for.
What happens when you pay your credit bill late?
If you don’t pay at least the minimum amount due each month, your credit issuer could report your account to one or all of the three major credit bureaus — Experian™, Equifax® and TransUnion® — as past-due. Your issuer will typically contact you and send overdue notices about your missing payments.
When you fail to pay your credit card debt over multiple billing cycles, consequences can become significant, including late fees, increased APRs (called penalty APRs), charge-offs and the threat of delinquency.
In addition, your credit score may suffer. Credit bureaus are responsible for generating your credit score. Having missed payments or derogatory remarks appear on your credit report can impact your credit score significantly.
The degree of impact depends on how long it's been since you missed the due date. The later your payment, the worse it can affect your score. Here are a few scenarios:
If you’re a few days late making a payment
If you miss a payment by a few days but make the payment in full immediately, it's possible that your issuer won't report this activity to the credit bureaus as a late payment. The usual time period is 30 days for a credit report to reflect a late payment. This late payment could hurt your score and lead to higher annual percentage rates (APRs) as a consequence, depending on your card's terms and conditions.
If you're 30 days late making a payment
If you haven't made your payment within 30 days of the due date, this is typically when issuers will report a late payment to the credit bureaus. Even if this is the first and only time you make a late payment after 30 days, it can still impact your score, depending on the scoring model and your current credit score.
If you're 60 days or more late making a payment
At this point, your credit score could be hurt significantly, and your APR may increase to the penalty APR, which is outlined in your credit card agreement. If you wait for more than 120 days, your creditor could write this debt off as a loss (otherwise known as a charge-off). Even if you pay off the late payment eventually, derogatory remarks like this stay on your report for up to seven years.
Different ways you can pay your credit card bill
Here are some common ways that card issuers will usually let you pay your credit card bill.
- Online bill pay
- Mobile app
- Money transfer
- At ATM
- In person at a branch
Some payment methods may result in a fee. Depending on your method of payment and the time of day you submit your payment, it may be credited and posted as a transaction on your account the same day that the bank receives it or the next business day.
According to the law regulated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, payments received by 5 p.m. must be credited the same day. Your due date isn't the only time you can make a payment. You can also pay your bill early or make multiple payments each month, depending on the card.
Should you carry a balance your credit card?
If you want to avoid interest charges, you’ll need to pay off your full balance each month. If you’re unable to pay off your full balance, make sure you pay at least the minimum payment.
Helpful tips to remind you to pay your credit card bill
With all the things in your life you have to remember, there are ways to be proactive about remembering to pay your credit card bill. Here are just a few:
- Set up auto pay: Your bank can set you up with automatic payments, which are deducted directly from your bank account each month on the date you assign. No need to remember logins or keep up with the due dates of multiple bills.
- Set up text alerts: You’ll be notified when your payment due date is coming up.
- Coordinate your payment due dates: If you have multiple credit cards with all different due dates, you might want to inquire about syncing up all payment due dates to just one. You can usually do this by contacting your credit card issuer via phone or submitting an online request.
- Know your credit card terms: Stay organized by keeping a spreadsheet or document that tracks the payment due dates, balances, interest rates and promo offers for each card. The more you know about the terms of each one, the more you can focus on which to pay off first as a strategy for chipping away at any debt.
Credit card companies offer many ways for you to pay your bill each month. You can pay online, with an app or in person, among other options. Setting up auto-pay or other reminders can help ensure you never miss a payment. And it’s always a good idea to pay at least your minimum payment each month, or more if you can.
If you’d like a free tool that provides on-going insight into your credit score and other helpful credit management resources, consider Chase Credit Journey®.