Consumers who are a little uneasy about credit card debt might want to pay off their balance immediately following a trip to the mall or grocery store. You don’t even have to leave the store these days – just make a payment using a mobile banking app on your smart-phone.
There are several advantages to paying off your credit card balance this way. For one, you needn’t worry about forgetting to pay your credit card bill at the end of the month, and you can easily add the transaction to your budget and then forget about it.
But a nice feature of most credit cards is that they offer a grace period of 21-to-30 days before interest starts to accrue. By waiting for the grace period you can review all of your purchases at the end of the month and then simply make one lump sum payment to clear off your balance.
When I started using a rewards credit card for all of my spending I used to pay off my balance immediately after making a purchase. Back then my credit card spending was limited to groceries and gas. But as I grew more confident with this approach, I started paying off the balance weekly, then bi-weekly, before finally just waiting until the statement due date before applying a payment.
It worked well for me because I get paid once a month and so it was convenient to review my credit card statements all at the same time and then pay off the balances in full.
As I funnelled more of my everyday spending onto a credit card to earn rewards, I thought it would be overkill to pay off my card balance every time I bought something – what a pain to manage when you have dozens of transactions every month.
What could possibly go wrong if you leave your credit card balance right up until the last minute when your statement comes due? As long as you pay the balance in full every month then the 19 percent credit card interest shouldn’t concern you.
So imagine my surprise when I checked my latest MasterCard statement and saw a $25 interest charge from my last credit card bill.
You know how your bank suggests you pay your bills three days before the due date to make sure the payment clears? Well apparently I waited too long to make a payment through my bank online and the bill ended up getting paid two days late. Crap! That meant interest was charged on the full balance.
While this lesson probably won’t change the way I pay my credit card bills in the future, I will be more conscious of the statement due date and set monthly reminders in my calendar.
It’s smart to review your credit card statement at least a week before the due date and then make sure to submit payment several business days in advance. Don’t wait until the due date to pay bills online or there’s a chance it won’t show up as paid until a day or two later.
On a positive note, I called MasterCard and confessed my stupidity, while reminding them how diligently I’ve paid off my balance in full every other month. They waived the interest charge, so I’m glad I asked.
Do you pay off your credit card balance right away or wait until your statement due date?