Why I Like to Pay My Current Credit Card Balance Instead of My Statement Balance

by Maurie Backman | Published on Sept. 21, 2021

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A man sits at a table, holding a credit card and paying his bills online.

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Believe it or not, sometimes I like to make a higher payment than I need to on my credit cards.

Because I check my credit card statements each week, I'm usually not faced with a shockingly large balance by the time my bills come due. This isn't to say that my statement balances are never high. Rather, I'm aware of what I'm spending during the month so that I'm not caught off guard when it's time to pay my bills.

Now, many credit card users routinely pay their statement balances at the end of each month. But I prefer to pay my current balance. Here's why.

Covering my obligations

A lot of people don't manage to pay off their credit cards by the time their statements are due. And people who don't pay in full wind up paying interest on that debt.

That's a situation I make every effort to avoid. Paying interest is basically like throwing money away. Sometimes, it can't be helped. If you run into a financial emergency and you don't have enough money in savings to cover whatever expense lands in your lap, you may have no choice but to use your credit card and pay off that charge when you can.

But I've made a point to build up a large emergency fund for unplanned bills. And as mentioned, I check my credit card spending week after week to help ensure that I'm able to pay my full balance on time.

Statement balance vs. current balance

That said, I actually like to pay my current balance each month if it's higher than my statement balance.

When you log into your credit card account, you'll generally see two separate balances:

  • Statement balance: the amount of your last statement -- and the amount you'll need to pay to avoid racking up interest.
  • Current balance: the amount you owe to date, which can be higher than your statement balance.

Let's say your credit card statements close out on the 15th of each month, and on the 17th, you log into your account to pay your bill. Your statement balance might be $1,000. But if you also made $100 worth of charges the day after your statement closed, your current balance will be $1,100.

I generally like to pay my current balance rather than my statement balance. I figure that doing so means I'll owe less money the next time I get a credit card bill, and that takes some of the pressure off for the following month.

That said, I can't always pay my current balance rather than my statement balance. When I was paying off my kids' summer camp, I owed $3,000 a month several months in a row. Because I'd been setting money aside for camp all year, I was able to cover a single $3,000 charge on top of my regular monthly bills. But I couldn't handle two $3,000 charges at once. A few months ago when I got my statement balance (including one camp payment), it came to $5,000. But my current balance was $8,000 because it included a second camp payment. In that case, I only paid my statement balance.

But for the most part, I like to pay a little extra toward my credit cards when I take care of my bills, even though I don't have to. I've never liked the idea of owing money, so I figure that if I can afford to pay off my current balance rather than just my statement balance, it's worth doing.

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