How to pay your credit card bill

If you use a credit card, that means you’ll likely have a payment to make every month. And staying on top of this bill is important because it can help keep your account in good standing. It’s also a big part of building healthy credit.

Most credit card issuers let you pay your credit card bill by phone, through an online account or mobile app, or by mail. You may also be able to pay in person. Here’s what to know about how you pay credit card bills and why it’s so important.

Key takeaways

  • Paying your full credit card balance on time each month could help you improve your credit scores and avoid paying interest.
  • Many credit card issuers offer the ability to pay your credit card bill online or with a mobile app, cash or check.
  • Setting up automatic payments or reminders, requesting a specific payment due date and sticking to a budget could help you stay on top of credit card payments.

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Ways to pay your credit card bill

Depending on your credit card issuer, you may be able to pay your credit card bill via ACH transfer, cash, check, a mobile app or an online portal. Take a closer look at each.

  • ACH transfer: Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments let you transfer funds directly from one account to another. You can usually make this transfer online using your bank’s mobile app or website. But you may also be able to pay in person or by calling the phone number on the back of your credit card. You’ll likely need to provide your credit card account, bank account and routing numbers.
  • Cash: If your credit card issuer has a location nearby, you may be able to pay in person with cash.
  • Check: If your issuer accepts this form of payment, you can drop off a check in person. Or you can follow the instructions on your credit card statement to mail a check with your credit card bill. Just remember to allow plenty of time for your payment to reach the issuer before the due date.
  • Mobile bill pay: Some credit card issuers offer a mobile app you can use to pay your bill. You’ll just need your payment account details.
  • Online bill pay: Sign in to your credit card account, and provide your bank account details to make a payment online.

When to pay your credit card bill

Every credit card has a billing cycle that typically lasts about a month. At the end of the billing cycle, your issuer will send you a credit card statement that lists your account activity, the minimum payment due and a due date. And that due date will be the same date every month.

Credit card issuers are also required to give you at least 21 days between the date your statement is mailed or delivered and the date your payment is due. You’ll want to make at least the minimum payment by the due date to keep your account in good standing and to avoid late fees.

Paying your bill on time can also have a positive impact on two areas that affect your credit scores:

  • Payment history: Making on-time payments shows responsible credit card use and may help you improve your credit
  • Credit use: Another factor that impacts your credit scores is your credit utilization ratio, which measures how much available credit you’re using. Paying down your balance may help you improve your credit score because it lowers your utilization ratio. Paying off your entire balance lowers that ratio even more and can help you avoid paying credit card interest.

Every card issuer has its own reporting schedule, so it’s best to ask your issuer about its practices. If you can find out when your card issuer reports your account activity, consider making at least a minimum payment before it’s reported as late. Doing so can help you avoid late fees or penalty annual percentage rates (APRs). But keep in mind that paying only the minimum amount may leave you with interest charges on the outstanding balance—and may cost you more in the long run.

Strategies for making on-time credit card payments

It can be easy to miss a credit card payment, especially if you’re juggling multiple bills every month. But paying a credit card bill by the due date helps you maintain healthy credit and keep your credit card account in good standing.

Here are some ways to help you keep up with your credit card payment and use your credit card responsibly:

  • Automate payments. With automatic payments, you’ll ask your credit card issuer to automatically take money from your bank account to pay your credit card. The issuer can withdraw the minimum payment, the entire balance or a prespecified amount on a prespecified date. This can ensure your bill is paid on time. Just make sure you have enough money in your bank account before the automatic payment goes through.
  • Set up payment alerts. Sometimes it can be tricky to predict whether money will be available for automatic payments on the same day each month. In these cases, you can set up text or email alerts that notify you when a payment due date is coming up. When you see the reminder, make a payment using the method that works best for you.
  • Request a due date that works for you. Some card issuers like Capital One allow cardholders to pick their due date. This can help you streamline your payments if you have multiple credit cards and other bills. You can usually do this either by calling your card issuer or making a request online.
  • Create a budget. Based on your take-home pay and ongoing expenses, it may help to figure out how much you can afford to charge to a credit card each month. Try to stick to a budget so you can pay off the balance in full and avoid interest. When you plan ahead, you’re more likely to pay your credit card bills on time.

Paying your credit card bill FAQ

More answers to questions about paying your credit card bill.

Can you pay a credit card with another credit card?

Generally speaking, you can’t pay off one credit card with another. But you may consider a balance transfer card if you’re carrying a balance with a high interest rate. Balance transfers allow you to move debt from one issuer’s card to another. It might even be possible to find a 0% introductory APR. But just because the debt’s on a new card doesn’t mean it goes away, and there could be fees to move the debt. So it’s worth learning how to pay off credit card debt.

Can you carry a balance on your credit card?

Yes, it’s possible to carry a balance on your credit card. But if you don’t pay the full statement balance by the due date, the credit card issuer can charge interest on the remaining balance and any new purchases.

What’s the difference between a statement balance and a current balance?

Here’s a quick breakdown of the differences between a statement balance and current balance:

  • Statement balance: This is the total amount owed at the end of the billing cycle. The statement balance can include any purchases as well as fees, interest, unpaid balances and credits within the billing cycle.
  • Current balance: This is the most up-to-date balance, including all purchases made up to that point. Paying off the current balance will bring your balance to $0.

Is it bad to have a $0 balance on a credit card?

No, having a balance of zero on a credit card isn’t bad for your credit. But if you’re not using the credit card account at all, you could run into potential downsides like paying unnecessary annual fees or having your account closed due to inactivity.

That said, you may want to think twice before closing an older credit card account. By reducing the amount of credit available to you, your credit utilization ratio may increase—which can negatively impact your credit scores. Average account age is also a factor in your credit scores.

Paying your credit card bill in a nutshell

The most important thing to remember is to make at least the minimum payment on your credit card by the due date every month. Consistently paying your bill on time can help you maintain good credit, keep your account in good standing and reduce how much you pay in interest.

You can find the payment amount and the due date by checking your most recent billing statement or calling your credit card issuer. And setting up online bill pay could help make paying bills more convenient.

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