To avoid interest on credit cards, either pay the full statement balance by the due date every billing period or maintain a $0 balance by not charging any purchases to your credit card account. There is no revolving balance for a credit card’s interest rate to apply to in either case.
More specifically, it’s impossible to owe interest without buying anything, and even a card with no balance reports positive information to the credit bureaus every month. Alternatively, making purchases and paying off the full balance listed on the monthly statement by the due date avoids interest thanks to the so-called “grace period” that most cards have. That basically means people who consistently pay their bill in full get an opportunity to do so before interest applies to their purchases.
But interest is most often a concern when you need to buy something now but won’t have all the money for a while. And in that case, the best way to avoid interest on a credit card is to get a card with a 0% introductory APR. Keep reading below to learn more about that option and the rest of the best ways to avoid credit card interest charges.
Here's how to avoid interest on credit cards:
Don’t make purchases, balance transfers or cash advances. Not using your card guarantees no interest, as long as you pay any annual or monthly fees it may charge. And the issuer will still report positive information to the credit bureaus each month.
Schedule monthly payments for your full statement balance. As long as you always pay the full balance listed on your monthly statement by the due date, the issuer won’t charge interest. Set up automatic monthly payments from a bank account for the full balance so you don’t need to remember. Just make sure your bank account balance exceeds the amount you charge.
Use a 0% credit card, and get out of debt before the regular APR kicks in. Lots of credit cards offer 0% intro rates on purchases, balance transfers or both for a certain number of months after account opening. Your balance won’t accrue interest during that period if you make the minimum payment each month. After the 0% rate expires, the regular interest rate kicks in.
It’s not too hard to avoid interest on a credit card if you know what to do. If you’re in the market for a new card and need to finance a big purchase, getting a 0% card is the best option. If you already have debt, you can move the balance to a 0% balance transfer card and pay it off before the intro period expires. WalletHub’s credit card payoff calculator can help you.
Always pay in full before the due date of the month. Also, don't take out any cash.
On the flipside, it's not always good to pay your bills in full, especially if you're applying for new cards. Since utilization doesn't have any history, some lenders will deny you because they can't see how you're using your cards.
Credit card companies will waive interest on a case-by-case basis, depending on both the credit card company’s policies and the cardholder’s relationship with the company. Cardholders with a long and positive account history have a better chance of getting interest charges waived, especially if the person doesn’t have a history of carrying a balance or asking for fee waivers. But even the best account history doesn’t guarantee that a card issuer will agree to take back an interest charge.… read full answer
The best way to go about asking your credit card company to waive interest charges is to call customer service and explain the situation that caused the interest. Being late on a payment or only paying the minimum amount due will trigger an interest charge, for example. And if you usually pay on-time and in full, the card issuer is likely to grant an interest waiver, as long as their policy allows it.
Credit card companies are in heavy competition for your business, and many will do what it takes to keep you on as a customer - including occasionally waiving interest and fees. For example, over 40% of people who have asked their card issuer to waive a fee have been successful, according to a WalletHub credit card survey, but 1 out of 3 people have never attempted it.
It’s also worth noting that some card issuers are temporarily more lenient about interest charges after major natural disasters or during global events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. So if you’d rather not pay an interest charge on your credit card bill – especially if you’re in a period of economic hardship that’s out of your control – there’s no harm in asking your card issuer to remove it.
You can figure out how much interest you will pay on your credit card by dividing the card’s APR by 365. Then, multiply the result by your average daily balance and, subsequently, the number of days in the billing period. The interest charges you owe will also be listed on the credit card’s monthly statement. Still, the easiest way to determine how much interest you will pay on a credit card is to use WalletHub’s … read full answercredit card payoff calculator. It’s a free tool that allows you to input the amount of debt you have (or will have) and your interest rate to get a payoff plan and a cost estimate.
You can set a payoff date, and we’ll tell you what monthly payments you’ll need to make. Or you can set a fixed monthly payment, and we’ll tell you how long it will take to pay off. We’ll also tell you the total amount of interest you can expect to pay and even which credit cards can save you the most money.
Even if you use a credit card calculator, however, it’s still a good idea to know how to crunch the numbers yourself.
How to Calculate Credit Card Interest Charges
1. Find your credit card’s APR
Your credit card’s APR will be listed in your cardmember agreement and on your monthly credit card statements.
2. Divide your APR by 365
An APR reflects the annual cost of borrowing, but credit card charges are assessed daily. Dividing by the number of days in a year gives you the daily interest rate – or daily periodic rate – for your credit card.
3. Multiply the daily interest rate by your average daily balance
Your average daily balance is the sum of your balances for each day in the billing period divided by the number of days in the billing period.
4. Multiply the resulting amount by the number of days in the billing period
When this calculation is done, you will have the interest charges due for the billing period. Just bear in mind that some details do vary by credit card company.
Whether you use WalletHub’s calculator or calculate credit card interest charges by hand, you should first understand the basics of how credit card interest works. We’ll highlight some key points below.
Key Things to Know About How Much Interest You’ll Pay on Your Credit Card
If you pay off your balance in full by your due date, you won’t owe any interest.
If you carry a balance from month to month, the interest you’ll owe depends on your Annual Percentage Rate (APR). That shows how much interest you’d pay in a year. But since credit card interest gets charged daily, your card’s interest rate is its APR divided by 365.
Credit card interest compounds daily, which means the interest rate applies to your whole balance at the end of each day, including unpaid interest charges from previous days.
Nearly all credit card APRs are variable, as opposed to fixed, meaning they’re based on a particular benchmark interest rate. This usually is the prime rate, which banks use when lending to each other.
Many cards offer lower introductory APRs on purchases and balance transfers for a limited time, often starting at 0%. Once the introductory period ends, the APR will change to the normal rate.
There’s no way to tell you how much interest you’ll owe without knowing your card’s balance and APR as well as the monthly payment you can afford. But if you plug that info into WalletHub’s calculator, you’ll have your answer in no time.
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