Having a credit card means being accountable for repayment of every cent you charge to your account, but your responsibility extends far beyond debt repayment. As a cardholder and responsible steward of credit, you’ll also need to keep track of an array of important credit card debts, with some more important than others.
Credit card dates you need to keep in mind can help you avoid late fees and avoidable interest payments, as well as get a better handle on your credit. Here are the most important dates to know and understand, and what each one means.
The credit card billing cycle is the length of time transactions are counted toward a single monthly bill. This period typically ranges from 28 to 31 days, and it can depend on the issuer.
Be aware that your billing period may vary in terms of when it starts and stops, perhaps running from the beginning of the month to the end of the month, or from the 10th of the month to the 10th of the following month.
Statement Closing Date
Your credit card’s statement closing date is the date your credit card statement is generated, meaning that all transactions (including new charges and payments made) made between your last statement closing date and your current statement closing date will be included on your next credit card billing statement.
After your current credit card statement closing date takes place, you’ll have what is known as a “grace period” to pay your credit card balance in full without any interest charges. For example, you may have 25 days from the statement date depending on your card issuer.
The Federal Trade Commission states that “the issuer must mail your bill at least 14 days before the due date so you’ll have enough time to pay,” for cards with grace periods.
The grace period only applies to new purchases. You don’t typically receive a grace period for balance transfers or cash advances.
Payment Due Date
Your credit card payment due date is the most important date to remember, because you’ll face consequences if you forget. This date signifies the last day of the month you can pay the minimum payment on your balance without facing an additional late fee. You’ll also be charged interest on your revolving balance if you don’t pay off your balance in full before this date.
Your payment due date also has ties to the health of your credit score. Specifically, since your payment history is the most important factor that makes up your FICO score at 35%, paying your bill after this date could result in damage to your credit.
Fortunately, your credit card payment due date will be the same each month, which means this date is easy to plan for. If you don’t like your credit card’s due date, it’s possible your card issuer will move your due date if you call and ask.
Many banks and issuers set a cut-off time for the payment due date, such as 5 p.m. Payments received after this deadline are processed the next business day, which may then incur late fees. Check your account or cardholder agreement for details.
On your statement or app, a transaction date is when your credit card transaction took place. The posting date, or the date the transaction actually posts to your credit card statement, may be different. Either way, a “transaction” is any activity that has occurred on your credit card statement, such as:
- Credit card payments
- Credits to your account
- Balance transfers
- Cash advances
Often, transaction dates are listed in chronological order on your statement. They may also be listed by user or transaction type.
Credit Card Expiration Date
Your credit card expiration date will be listed prominently, either on the card’s back or the front. On the date listed, your credit card will no longer be usable, although it doesn’t mean your account is closed. Most credit card issuers will mail you a new replacement credit card before your credit card’s expiration date, at which point you can destroy your old credit card and activate the new one.
Tip: If your credit card will soon expire and you haven’t received a new one in the mail, call your card issuer and ask for a replacement with an updated due date.
Annual Fee Due Dates
If your credit card comes with an annual fee, you’ll need to pay this fee once per year. These fees are automatically charged to your account and may be based on cardholder benefits you receive, which could include travel perks, annual credits, insurance products and more.
If you don’t want to pay your card’s annual fee for another year, you have the option to:
- Cancel your credit card
- Call your card issuer to see if they’ll waive the annual fee for the year
- Ask to downgrade to another card that doesn’t charge an annual fee
- Look for a card that doesn’t charge annual fees
Cards with annual fees may offer lower interest rates, and cards without fees may have higher interest rates.
Introductory Offer Dates
Credit cards frequently come with introductory offers and terms, and you’ll need to track when these offers end. Offers may include balance transfer offers, introductory interest rate offers, and sign-up offers.
For example, some balance transfer credit cards waive balance transfer fees for the first 60 days after account opening. At 60 days, you’ll have to pay a balance transfer fee if you choose to transfer a balance. You might also get an introductory offer for 0% APR for any length of time, say 15 months. Once 15 months are up, your credit card balance will begin accruing interest at the regular variable rate.
The balance transfer or other introductory offer rate must stay in effect for at least six months, unless you’re more than 60 days late in paying your bill.
For sign-up offers, you’ll want to make qualifying purchases before the deadline to get your sign-up cash, miles, or other benefits. The clock often starts when your application is approved, not when you actually receive your card.
The Bottom Line
These dates, and other introductory offer dates, are important to remember if you want to avoid unnecessary fees and interest charges. After all, missing your due date could result in a late fee as well as being charged a penalty APR. Further, missing an introductory offer date could leave you paying interest without even knowing it.
When it comes to important credit card dates, it might make sense to mark important ones like your due date on your calendar, or even set up a reminder on your phone.