If you like the idea of having good credit, then you know paying your credit card bill each month is unpleasant, but necessary. But how you pay it is a matter of personal preference.
Everyone’s financial situation is different, so what works for Matt and Christie may not work for you. Or, it might.
I asked a few LendingTree employees to share their strategies for paying off their credit cards in full and on time. Maybe something they said will help you find a better way to pay yours.
Maryanne Sweat, test engineering manager
All my credit cards are configured in my online banking solution. Most of them send eBills, so it’s easy to see any unpaid bills in my banking mobile app and web experience. My online bill pay system sends me reminders on bills I haven’t paid but whose deadlines are approaching.
For my retail store cards, I generally only use them for the store discounts associated with the purchase. This means I’m typically buying something I can afford to pay cash for, but I want the discount. So, when the bill comes in, it’s paid in full because it was something I could afford to buy outright anyway.
I pay several recurring monthly bills with my American Express card to earn points. Those bills get factored into my monthly budget and are always paid in full at the end of each month. For things I need to pay over time, I use Amex. It offers a bill pay calculator that helps determine how much per month you need to pay to cover the cost and interest. It’s very helpful to see this breakdown.
Finally, when I experience a windfall such as tax refund or bonus, I use most of those funds to drive my Visa or AMEX to a zero balance. I try very hard not to carry a balance on any card for more than a month or two.
Matt Woods, senior marketing manager
I once took out a credit card with a 0% APR for 18 months so I could buy furniture. I knew I could repay the card in 18 months and set up the account to automatically withdraw payments each month until it was paid off. I basically got free money to afford a piece of furniture I couldn’t afford in cash. You have to be careful when you put those big expenses on your card. You need to be disciplined enough to know that’s actual money you have to repay.
Speaking of auto pay…
Do it. When I first started using credit cards in college, I forgot to pay the bill one month and got hit with big (late) fees. I set up the auto payment feature to ensure I’d never miss another payment again.
Felicia Jackson, licensing coordinator
I only charge the amount I’m willing to pay back. For example, one month I may charge $100 and then plan to charge $200 the next month. But if I know I’ll be unable to pay my bill off completely after the first month, I don’t use my credit card. I also only use credit card with limits I feel comfortable repaying. I reject offers for higher-limit cards, especially if I don’t need them. I also never use my credit cards for holiday shopping. I use it for trips, hotel stays, rental cars, etc., but never to buy presents. If I did, I’d just end up buying more stuff than I need to and end up spending six months to repay it.
Christie Thornton, email developer
I like to pay my credit cards every time I get paid. Because I’m paid every two weeks, I make it a habit to make payments on any credit cards with outstanding balances. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. I’ve found that paying my credit card bill as soon as I get paid reduces the likelihood, I’ll spend that money on unnecessary purchases, like eating out and clothing, and then not paying as much as I should towards credit cards. I also set up text and email alerts with my credit card issuer, so they remind me when payments are due.
Roopak Pandya, senior associate, accounting operations
Budget. This has to be No. 1 on anyone’s list. If my wife and I didn’t have a budget in place to tell us how much of a credit card payment we could afford, then we’d never get out of credit card debt. Plan big purchases and commit to paying on schedule.
We typically use our credit card for large purchases or projects. In the past, we’ve committed to using the credit card but not planning out a schedule to pay off the purchase. We didn’t realize the impact a large purchase would have on our monthly budget, and just thought we’d pay it off little by little as we could afford to. Well, that little by little turns into years of paying for something. Now we’ve learned, if we want to make a $1,200 purchase and have it paid off in a year, we better make room in the budget for another $100 of monthly spend.
Managing your credit card payoff
Need more help understanding how to manage your debt in relation to your income? Looking for credit cards that earn you better points? Download the LendingTree app today and get personalized recommendations about how you can improve your financial (and credit) health!