Credit card minimum payments

Minimum payments on credit cards: what you should know

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A credit card minimum payment is exactly what you’d expect: it’s the minimum you must repay to your card provider every month in order to avoid extra charges. Your monthly minimum payment is worked out based on your credit card’s interest rate (APR) and the amount you have borrowed.

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What are credit card minimum payments?

A credit card minimum payment is the minimum amount of money you need to pay towards your credit card balance each month to avoid a late charge or fee.

How do credit card minimum payments work?

When you get your credit card statement or bill each month, it should have information about your transactions, as well as how much you owe and the minimum amount you can repay.

The minimum payment you have to make to avoid a late fee differs between providers. It’s generally calculated as either a percentage of your outstanding balance, or a set amount of cash – whichever is greater. The interest due for the month is then added, as well as any charges or fees included as part of the card’s general usage.

This means as you pay off more of your balance, your minimum payment amount should gradually reduce. However, this will mean it takes longer to pay your overall balance off, as you pay less and less each time. It also means you’re likely to pay more interest on your balance.

Should I make the minimum repayment?

If you’re using a credit card, it’s generally a good idea to pay off as much as you can each month. This way you’ll be able to reduce your balance as quickly as possible, without having to pay too much interest on top of the credit balance.

For example, if your credit card debt stands at £5,000 with a 16% APR and your minimum repayment is either 3% of your balance or £10:

  • Paying the minimum means it would take over 16 years to pay off your debt, and you’ll end up paying £3,339, in interest
  • Paying a fixed sum of £300 a month means you’d clear your balance in one year and seven months, paying only £636 in interest

You can work out how soon you can pay off an existing credit card balance with our credit card calculator.

What if I can’t pay more than the minimum repayment amount?

If you are struggling to pay off your entire balance each month, minimum payments can help. This is because they let you avoid late fees and charges, and therefore they also help you preserve your credit rating.

Some credit cards also come with extra incentives, like 0% interest periods or cashback on purchases, however a late payment could mean you lose these benefits. Making sure you meet at least your minimum payments can help you keep your incentives intact.

What happens if you can’t make your minimum payment?

If you think you won’t be able to meet your next minimum payment, you should always try to contact your lender as soon as you can. They might be able to advise you, or be willing to come to a compromise to help you manage your payments.

How can I make sure I meet my credit card payments?

One way to make sure you meet at least the minimum payment for your credit card is to set up a direct debit for the minimum amount. This way you can rest assured that these payments will at least be met automatically, and there won’t be anything stopping you from topping the amount up when you can.

You could also consider a balance transfer credit card. They let you transfer an existing balance to a new credit card, often with a low or 0% interest rate, which can help you manage your payments and reduce your overall balance quicker.

Compare credit cards

It’s easier to find the right credit card for you when you compare deals on MoneySuperMarket. All you need to do is tell us a little about yourself and your finances, as well as what you want to use the new card for, and we’ll give you a list of deals tailored to your needs.

Then you can sort and compare by their APR, any benefits or incentives, and how likely you are get the card if you apply. This way you can reduce the risk of being refused credit, keeping your credit score in better shape.

Once you’ve chosen the card you want to apply for, just click through to the provider to finalise the process. If the provider accepts your application, they’ll set you a credit limit and interest rate, and once you get the card in the post you just need to activate it and it’ll be ready to use.

Remember the rate advertised on the credit card may not be the one you get, as the APR only has to be offered to 51% of successful applicants. Your actual rate will also take into account your credit history and finances.

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