Statement balance vs. current balance: What do they mean?

Learn more about credit card balances and how they can affect your credit.

When paying your monthly credit card bill, you might be focused on finding out what you owe. But two terms could confuse you: “statement balance” and “current balance.” 

Your statement balance is the sum of all the charges and payments you made during one billing cycle. And your current balance is a more “real time” view of what you owe on your credit card. 

The two balances might be different, but both can affect your credit. Here are a few things to consider when comparing your statement balance to your current balance.

What is a statement balance?

Your statement balance is what you owe at the end of a billing cycle, which is typically 20-45 days. Think of it like a monthly snapshot of your account. It’s the total of all the purchases, fees, interest and unpaid balances, minus any payments or credits since the previous statement. 

Paying it off every month on or before the due date can help you avoid paying interest. It’s also important to note that once it’s calculated, the statement balance remains the same until the end of the next billing cycle. That’s one big difference between a statement balance and a current balance.

What does current balance mean?

If you’re looking at your account online, your current balance is a total of all charges, interest, credits and payments on your account. Think of it as a somewhat real-time view of what you owe. 

It can change each time your card is used. But pending purchases aren’t reflected in your current balance until they post.

Choosing to pay it in full will eliminate the balance on your card temporarily. But pending transactions, fees and interest charges may post later and require additional payments. 

How your balance affects your credit score

Credit card issuers typically report your balance information to the credit bureaus after each billing cycle. But the exact timing can be different for each company. And because your credit report shows the balance on your card when the issuer reported the information, the amount might be different from your most recent statement balance.

Also, credit-scoring companies use your credit utilization ratio when calculating your credit score. So your credit card balance at the time it’s reported to the bureaus can impact this.

Your credit utilization ratio measures how much credit you’re using compared to the amount you have available. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, experts recommend keeping your credit utilization below 30% of your available credit. 

Paying down your current balance—while not always required—can help improve your credit utilization ratio, which in turn may help bump up your score

How to find your statement balance and current balance

Your statement balance is listed on your monthly credit card statement. In most cases, your lender will send this to you in the mail or electronically, if you’ve requested.

Since your current balance can change in real time, you can get the most up-to-date information by signing into your online account. 

It’s also easy to find your statement balance and current balance when using the Capital One Mobile app. After opening the app and signing in, tap the icon with your Capital One credit card. The homepage will display your current balance and available credit at the top of the screen. 

Should I pay my current balance or statement balance?

You don’t need to pay your entire current balance to avoid paying interest. Just the statement balance that’s on your credit card bill. Consistently paying that amount in full by the due date will help you avoid paying interest or late fees. 

If charges you’ve made since your last billing cycle are creating more debt than you’re comfortable with, paying off your current balance early could help improve your credit utilization ratio and credit score.

If you’re not able to pay your entire statement balance, it’s important to make at least the minimum payment. This can help keep your account in good standing and help protect your credit score. Plus, you typically won’t face any late fees or penalties. 

With Capital One, you can also set up automatic payments and bill reminders through the Mobile app. These can help you pay on time, understand your balance and keep your account in good standing.

Managing your statement balance and current balance

Understanding the difference between your statement and current balance can help you manage your account. 

Your statement balance is a snapshot of your previous billing cycle. And consistently paying it off by the due date can help minimize interest and improve your credit utilization ratio. But if you can’t pay down your full statement balance, aim to make at least the minimum payment by the due date to keep the account in good standing.

The current balance is your most up-to-date snapshot of your credit card transactions. Keep an eye on this because you’ll eventually have to make payments on it. And depending on when your balance is reported to credit bureaus, it may also impact your credit report, credit utilization and score.

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