Credit Card Statement Balance vs. Current Balance: What's the Difference?

It's not just about what you owe, but when you incurred the balance

Smiling young woman shopping online with credit card and laptop computer.
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You may find that you're presented with two different numbers when you check your credit card balance by phone or online. You'll see both a statement balance and a current balance.

These balances can be different, and this can be confusing if you're trying to pay your balance in full to avoid paying finance charges. Which figure is accurate? Which one are you supposed to pay? That depends on your goal.

What's the Difference Between Statement Balance and Current Balance?

Statement Balance Current Balance 
Shows the amount owed at the end of the last billing cycle Includes charges, interest, and payments since the close of the last billing cycle
Is the "official" balance that's typically reported to the credit bureaus Is the balance you'll probably be quoted if you ask for it by phone or if you check online

Your statement balance is the balance that appears on your most recent credit card billing statement. Your credit card activity is billed in cycles. The credit card issuer provides a statement detailing the activity that occurred during that billing cycle when the cycle ends. The statement also informs you of the amount due and the due date.

Your statement balance is your credit card balance as of your account statement closing date: the date your billing cycle ended and your credit card statement was generated.

The balance that appears on your credit card statement is often the balance that's reported to the credit bureaus.

You may have made purchases, payments, or other transactions since the time your credit card statement was issued. This would change your outstanding credit card balance, adding to or subtracting from it. These transactions are reflected in the current balance, so it can be higher or lower than your statement balance, depending on the transactions you've made.

Your statement balance would be higher than your current balance if a payment posted to your account since your billing statement was issued. Your statement balance would be lower than your current balance if you made purchases since your billing cycle was issued.

Your current balance might also include pending transactions if you check your account online or over the phone. These are transactions that you've made, typically within the last 24 to 48 hours, that haven't officially posted to your account yet. Your credit card issuer has received notification of these transactions, but they haven't been fully processed.

Which Balance Should You Pay?

You can avoid paying finance charges by paying your statement balance by the statement's due date, but only if you started the billing cycle with a $0 balance, or you paid your previous balance in full by the payment due date. This is the end of the "grace period." You have until the end of this grace period to pay the statement balance in full to avoid a finance charge on that balance.

You may already have a finance charge added to your balance if you carried a balance from the previous billing cycle.

If You Set Up Autopay

You can set up autopay with your credit card issuer to ensure that your statement balance is paid on time each month. The payment will automatically deduct from your bank account on the date you specify. It should be on or before the payment due date.

Be sure you have enough funds available in your checking account when you set up an automatic payment. Otherwise, you'll be charged a returned payment fee if the bank rejects the payments, plus you'll end up paying finance charges because the balance wasn't paid in full by the due date.

You may still have a balance left even if you pay the statement balance if you made new charges after your statement was issued. You'll see that leftover balance plus any new transactions on your next billing statement in this case.

You can also pay the full current balance if you want to have a low or zero balance on your next credit card billing statement. Contact your credit card issuer to find out the "payoff balance" if you want to bring your credit card balance down to zero. This may include finance charges that haven't yet been added to your account.

You must pay at least the minimum to avoid receiving late payment penalties if you can't pay the entire statement balance. Pay more than the minimum if you can. This will reduce your credit card balance faster and lessen the amount of interest you pay over time.

The Bottom Line

The balance that appears on your credit card statement is often the balance that is reported to the credit bureaus, so it's particularly important. This is why the balance that appears on your credit report often doesn't reflect your current credit card balance.