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Credit card monthly repayment calculator: See how long it takes to pay off your debt
Estimate how much you need to pay each month to become debt-free.
Paying your card statement’s minimum each month can keep your account in good standing. But without contributing more, it could take years to pay down your balance to zero. And it can lead to ongoing credit card debt and steep unnecessary interest over the long term.
Use our calculator to learn how long you might need to pay off your debt with minimum payments — and how much more can better meet your payoff goals.
How to use our credit card repayment calculator
We designed our calculator to help you determine three key points to paying off your debt and see how monthly payments affect your overall interest and payoff goals.
- Input your balance details. Enter how much you owe and your interest rate to see how much you’re paying in interest each month.
- Adjust your monthly repayments. Enter your statement’s minimum to learn how long it’d take you to pay off your balance in full. Then increase the payment amount to see how much you time you can shave off by sending more.
- Narrow down a payoff goal. Enter your ideal payoff time frame in months to see how much you’d have to send monthly to reach that goal. Adjust your goal until the monthly payment also matches your budget.
Note that our calculator works only if you commit to making no new purchases on the card you’re trying to pay off. And it doesn’t include compound interest. Adding to your balance will likely increase your monthly repayments, overall interest and time to pay it off.
Credit card repayment and interest calculator
How to calculate your credit card repayment
Now that you know which numbers to put into the calculator, let’s break down how it works.
Credit card info
The Interest-only payment box might surprise you. The number you see is how much of your monthly payment goes toward interest — and not your principal. Basically, it’s how much you’re paying for the privilege of borrowing money.
Calculating credit card interest can be tedious. In case you’re curious, most card providers calculate interest based on the average daily balance method. This is what our calculator uses too.
Learn more about how the daily balance method works in our guide to credit card interest.
Calculate months to payoff
When paying off credit card debt, your money goes toward two costs: the amount you’ve charged to your card and the interest you’ve accrued.
After you input your monthly payment, you’ll see a number in the Months to payoff box. This is how long it can take to pay off both your balance and interest.
Calculate monthly payment
Here, you can input how soon you want to pay off your balance. In the box at bottom right, you’ll see how much interest you’d pay over the life of your balance.
The longer you take to pay off your balance, the more interest you accrue — which can reach half your initial amount due or more. It’s the result of compound interest, which can accumulate very quickly.
To lower your interest, pay off your balance sooner. Contribute a little more to your card payment each month.
How is credit card interest calculated?
Unlike other forms of credit that charge simple interest, credit cards accrue compound interest:
- Simple interest. Interest is charged as a fixed percentage on the principal — or the amount you borrowed initially. Regardless of how much you pay, you pay less interest on your next repayment statement as long as you haven’t added to your balance in the meantime.
- Compound interest. Interest is charged as a fixed percentage on both the principal and any interest charges you racked up in the meantime. If you’re not making large enough payments each month, you could end up paying yet more interest on your next bill — effectively paying interest on interest carried across months.
How do credit card minimum repayments work?
At the end of each billing cycle, your credit card issuer will tally up your transactions during the cycle and issue a billing statement to you. Then it’ll give you a due date by which you must submit payment.
To keep your account current, you must make at least the minimum payment. Typically, this is 1% to 3% of your balance or a fixed amount, such as $25. If your balance is a very low amount — say, below $25, the entire amount might be your minimum payment.
Should I make only the minimum payment each billing cycle?
You’re perfectly free to do this, but this is usually a bad idea. That’s because when you don’t pay off your balance in full, it’ll start accruing interest at the normal interest rate — provided you don’t have an intro APR.
Letting interest pile up on your account is a very easy way to get yourself mired in debt. Interest sneaks up on many people faster than they realize.
What’s the minimum I need to pay on my credit card?
Credit card companies make a lot of money on the interest you pay them. And so, they set minimum monthly repayments that make it worth their time, ranging from 2% to 3% of your closing balance and all the way up to 10%, in some cases.
How much you pay generally depends on how much you owe – if you owe a lot of money, your issuer will likely charge a percentage of your closing balance. If you don’t owe quite so much, many issuers will simply set a fixed floor minimum requirement, ranging anywhere from $10 to $35 in most cases. And if you owe less than the fixed floor minimum, you’re simply required to pay your balance.
Here’s an example of what you could pay with popular credit card issuers, based on the providers’ websites at the time of writing:
- American Express. The greater of $35 or 1% of your closing balance.
- Bank of America. The greater of $25 or 1% of your closing balance.
- Capital One. The greater of $25 or 1% of your closing balance.
- Chase. The greater of $10 or 2% of your closing balance.
- Citi. The greater of $30 or 2% of your closing balance.
- Synchrony. The greater of $25 or 1% of your closing balance.
- USAA. The greater of $15 or 1% of your closing balance.
- U.S. Bank. The greater of $30 or 1% of your closing balance.
- Wells Fargo. The greater of $35 or 2% of your closing balance.
Minimum payment examples
Issuers approach your minimum payment calculation in one of two ways: a percentage including total fees and interest, or a percentage with fees and interests tacked on afterwards. Here’s how the first looks supposing your balance total is $4,500, including recent interest and fees, with a 3% minimum payment percentage:
In the second calculation, let’s assume the same balance total of $4,500, but without including your interest and fees. Supposing two late fees at $70 and $100 in interest:
Issuers that calculate minimum payments by tacking on interest and fees afterward generally charge a lower percentage on the balance. Nonetheless, this is an important distinction to keep in mind.
What happens if I repay only my statement’s minimum?
There are a few reasons its important to pay more than your minimum each month:
- It takes much longer to pay off. By repaying only the minimum monthly payment required, you end up contributing more of your money to the credit card issuer’s bottom line. Meanwhile, you’re chipping away at only a small percentage of your overall credit card debt.
- It increases your interest. Because you’re charged compound interest on your credit card debt, you could end up paying interest on interest, ballooning your original principal over months.
- It’s deceptive. Minimum payments can make insurmountable debt seem perfectly reasonable on paper. In reality, paying the bare minimum can keep you in debt for a long, long time.
- It can hurt your credit score. If you continually carry a balance that takes up a large portion of your overall card limit — or max out your credit cards — it might also negatively affect your credit score.
Work to pay off your balance in full. Or clear as much of the debt as you can each month to minimize interest costs.
How to maximize repayments
Let’s say you’ve racked up $5,000 on a credit card with a 15% interest rate. Your last statement’s minimum was $100 — or the greater of $20 or 2% of your closing balance. But you’re looking to work out the most efficient way to pay down the debt.
You think you can afford $250 each month. Using our calculator, you learn how much time and simple interest you can save by increasing your monthly repayment.
|Minimum repayments||Higher repayments|
|Credit card balance||$5,000||$5,000|
|Monthly repayment amount||$100||$250|
|Total time to pay off principal||6.5 years||2 years|
|Credit card balance||—||$6,456.05|
You’d save a massive $6,456.05 in unnecessary interest on your principal with a higher repayment of $250, paying off your debt 4.5 years early.
The different types of interest you might be charged
You’ll accrue different types of interest based on your balances. These include:
- Purchase interest.
This is the most common type of interest. When you make purchases on your card but don’t pay them off in full by your payment due date, you’ll start accruing interest on your spending. Some cards offer 0% APR periods for purchases for a limited time.
- Balance transfer interest.
Typically, any balances you move to your card will start accruing interest immediately. You can avoid this by getting a balance transfer card, which will offer a 0% APR on transfers for a limited time.
- Cash advance interest.
Your cash advance APR is usually, but not always, higher than your rates for purchases and balance transfers. It may apply when you make ATM withdrawals or cash-equivalent transactions with your credit card. Cash advances don’t have grace periods, meaning you’ll start accruing interest on them immediately.
What can I do if I’m struggling to repay my debt?
If accumulating interest is keeping you from paying off your credit card debt, consider a 0% intro balance transfer APR credit card. These cards allow you to transfer your debt to a card offering no or low interest for a promotional period.
You’ll still need to pay more than the minimum repayment to completely pay off your debt before the revert rate applies. But because you’ll pay more up front, you’ll pay less overall interest over the life of the promo — and you’ll pay off your debt faster.
Note when the introductory offer ends so that you can be back on track before the revert rate kicks in.
Here are a few more options if you’re struggling to repay debt
- Consider credit counseling.
Start your search at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a nonprofit that connects consumers with qualified counseling agencies. You can book a session with an NFCC counselor for free, and they’ll help you review your finances and come up with a plan of action.
- Forbearance might help.
If you’re having temporary trouble paying your credit card debt, contact your issuer and tell the representative about your difficulties. They may be able to offer short-term relief such as reduced payments, payment-date extensions, increased credit limits and more.
- Negotiate with your credit card issuer.
If your debt is more serious and you’re relatively certain you won’t be able to pay it off in good time, forbearance might not be enough. Contact your issuer and see if it can arrange a payoff plan or debt settlement. Keep in mind that while these might help you take care of your debt, you’ll take a hit to your credit score.
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