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Why paying your credit card early is a good idea

Build your credit score and get lots of other benefits.

Updated

Paying your credit card early is a sign of responsible credit card use and card issuers interpret it as a sign of trustworthiness. If you pay your credit card early monthly, you’ll quickly notice the benefits.

Why you should pay your credit card early

If your finances allow, try to pay your credit card early because you get to:

  • Build your credit score.
    Paying your balance before it’s due can help you increase your credit score over time.
  • Free up your credit.
    Your credit limit is the maximum amount you can spend on your card. Once you pay off your existing purchases, you free up available credit for new purchases.
  • Avoid interest.
    You won’t pay any interest on your purchases if you pay them before it’s due. Also, late payments could impose penalty interest rates of more than 30% and it could remove a 0% intro APR period if you have one.
  • Avoid fees.
    Many credit cards come with late payment fees if you don’t make the minimum payment before it’s due. Making early payments avoids additional fees.
  • Graduate to a better credit card.
    If you’re starting out with a secured credit card, many card providers return your secured deposit while letting you keep your card and the benefits.

How to pay your credit card early

First, you need to set up a budget for making early credit card payments. Once you have that covered, here’s how to pay early:

  • Set up autopayments.
    The easiest way to set it up is via your online credit card account. You can set the amount at the minimum payment, the full amount or any other amount you want.
  • Set up reminders.
    If you wish to review your statement before paying it off, set up recurring reminders on your calendar. You can also opt in to reminders monthly before your card’s due date.
  • Change your payment due date.
    Some card providers let you move your payment due date. Use this feature to make your payments closer to your payday.

What happens if you can’t pay your credit bills on time

As long as you make the minimum payment — between 1% and 3% of your balance — before the due date, you only accrue APR on purchases on your remaining balance until you pay it off.

But if you fail to make the minimum payment, you’re on the hook for a late fee, and could incur a penalty APR of 30% or more, depending on the card provider. In addition, your credit score suffers.

Compare credit cards

Credit cards with 0% intro APR periods on purchases or low fees can help keep your monthly bills low even if you miss a payment.

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Perfect for families: Get up to 6% on everyday purchases and a welcome offer worth $300. This heavy-hitter rewards card has uncontested value. Rates & fees
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
20% at Amazon.com up to $200 back in the first 6 months, 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores, 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0
This everyday cashback card is ideal for Black Friday and holiday shopping with 20% back at Amazon.com up to $200 back in the first 6 months. Rates & fees
Chase Freedom Flex℠
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter (then 1%), 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
$0
Get up to 5% cashback in rotating and newly added everyday categories. The refreshed Freedom Flex card has lots of earning potential.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
15.99% to 22.99% variable
$95
Earn a signup bonus worth $750 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
N/A
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
$0
An impressive 18 months intro APR on balance transfers and purchases, as well as no annual fee make this one of the top 0% APR cards available.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Paying your credit card early builds your credit score, helps you avoid fees, interest and prevents you from losing a 0% intro APR period if you have one.

But if you can’t keep up with early payments, consider applying for a 0% intro APR period credit card, minimizing the impact of late payments.

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