What is a billing cycle?

Knowing when your billing cycle occurs can help you keep track of your payment due date.

Understanding how your credit card’s billing cycle works can help you manage your money and prepare for upcoming bills. You may even be able to use this knowledge to make strategic decisions that can give you more time to pay off purchases or improve your credit score. 

A billing cycle—also called a billing period or a statement period—is the time between two statement closing dates. At the end of a billing cycle, your transactions from the billing period and previous balances are added together to determine your statement balance. The bill for your statement is usually due around three weeks later, although it depends on the credit card company. And the next billing cycle begins right away. 

How long is a billing cycle?

While they may vary, credit cards often have a billing cycle of around 30 days. It depends on the card issuer.

You can review your credit card agreement or credit card statement to find how long your card’s billing cycle is. To comply with federal regulations, your card issuer must use equal billing cycles. But there’s a little wiggle room to accommodate weekends, holidays and months that are longer or shorter than others. 

For example, let’s say your billing cycle ends on the 15th of each month. The card’s billing cycles are considered equal if they end within four days of that date, even if they’re not the exact same number of days.

How does a credit card billing cycle work?

A credit card billing cycle is important for determining your credit card bill’s amount and due date. 

At the end of each billing cycle, the card issuer will add up all the transactions that occurred during the period. It will also add balances that were carried over from the previous billing cycle. Then your issuer will send you a credit card statement with a summary of the account activity, statement balance, minimum payment and due date. 

Many credit cards have a grace period—between the end of a billing cycle and the bill’s due date—when you may not be charged interest on your purchases. For example, Capital One’s grace period is at least 25 days. Grace periods are usually between 25 and 55 days. And if you pay your bill in full each month, you won’t be charged interest on your purchases. However, if you pay less than the full amount, interest may begin to accrue.

Can I change my billing cycle?

Your card issuer might be able to change your account’s billing cycle, but you’ll be notified before that happens. While you generally can’t choose the length of your card’s billing cycle, you may be able to request a new due date for your bills. If approved, the change may take one to two billing cycles to go into effect.

Using your billing cycle to plan for purchases and payments

Understanding how billing cycles, statement balances, grace periods and due dates work can help you make strategic decisions about how and when to use a credit card. 

Knowing when a billing cycle comes to an end can help you budget for the upcoming bill. Paying the bill in full can help you avoid paying interest. But even when that’s not possible, you can make the minimum payment by the due date to avoid a late fee. If you’re more than 30 days past due, it could hurt your credit scores. 

Credit card issuers often send an update to the three major credit bureaus—Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion®—with your card’s balance after the end of each billing cycle. But the timing can depend on the issuer. The reported balance and credit limit can impact your credit utilization ratio, which is a measure of how much available credit you’re using and an important credit-scoring factor.  

Monitor your credit card, credit report and scores

Checking your credit card balance throughout each billing cycle can help you keep an eye on your current balance and prepare for upcoming bills. Capital One customers can use the Capital One Mobile app to check balances, pay bills or lock their card. And customers can set up notifications to get real-time spending alerts on the app.

You can also use CreditWise from Capital One to access your TransUnion credit report and weekly VantageScore® 3.0 credit score anytime—without hurting your score. CreditWise is free and available to everyone—even if you’re not a Capital One cardholder.

Learn more about Capital One’s response to COVID-19 and resources available to customers. For information about COVID-19, head over to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Government and private relief efforts vary by location and may have changed since this article was published. Consult a financial adviser or the relevant government agencies and private lenders for the most current information.

We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

Your CreditWise score is calculated using the TransUnion® VantageScore® 3.0 model, which is one of many credit scoring models. It may not be the same model your lender uses, but it can be one accurate measure of your credit health. The availability of the CreditWise tool depends on our ability to obtain your credit history from TransUnion. Some monitoring and alerts may not be available to you if the information you enter at enrollment does not match the information in your credit file at (or you do not have a file at) one or more consumer reporting agencies.

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