How does credit card interest work?
Generally, when we talk about credit card interest, we mean the purchase interest rate, which is the interest charged on purchases you make with your credit card.
If you don’t pay your full balance each month (or even if you pay the minimum amount), you are charged interest on all the outstanding transactions and the remaining balance. However, interest is also charged on cash advances, balance transfers, special rate offers and, in some cases, even the fees charged by the company.
The interest rate can vary, depending on the credit card. Some have an interest-free period, otherwise you start paying interest from the day you make a purchase or from the day your monthly statement is issued. So avoid interest by paying the full amount promptly.
Credit card interest can quickly turn a manageable balance into unmoveable debt. So being able to understand how interest rates translate into dollars is an important skill to acquire.
The common mistake people make is focusing on the credit card’s annual percentage rate (APR), which often sits between 15 and 20 per cent. While the APR does provide a rough idea of how much interest you’ll pay, it’s not entirely accurate.
This is because you actually accrue interest on your balance daily, not annually. So, you need to work out your daily periodic rate (DPR). To do this, divide your card’s APR by the number of days in a year (e.g. 16.9 per cent divided by 365, or 0.05 per cent). You can then apply this figure to the daily balance on your credit card.
A credit card can be an easy way to make purchases online, in person or over the phone. When used properly, a credit card can even help you manage your cash flow. But before applying for a credit card, it’s good to know how they work. A credit card is essentially a personal line of credit which lets you buy things and pay for them later. As a card holder, you’ll be given a credit limit and (potentially) charged interest on the money the bank lends you. At the end of each billing period, the bank will send you a statement which shows your outstanding balance and the minimum amount you need to pay back. If you don’t pay back the full balance amount, the bank will begin charging you interest.
Credit card debt can cripple your finances. If you’re wondering how to get rid of credit card debt, here are a few steps to get you back in the black:
Calculate your debt – Knowing the magnitude of your credit debt is important. Online credit debt calculators make it easy to determine the debt size, and repayments required.
Work out a repayment plan – Take some time to formulate a credit repayment plan. Consider increasing your income, scaling back your lifestyle or refinancing.
Talk to your credit provider – If you’re still struggling with your debt, talk to your credit provider. You may be able to come to a new arrangement.
There are a few ways to pay a credit card bill. One way is to pay via BPAY. This means you can make your credit card payment on the phone or via the internet.
You can set up an automatic payment from an Australian bank account to pay your credit card bill each month. You can choose how much you want to pay of your credit card bill when you set up the auto payments.
Different Australian banks will also allow you to pay off credit card bills in person at one of their branches.
Some credit card companies also allow you to pay your credit card via an app whenever each statement is due.
Credit cards offering rewards can be great if you know you’ll use the card enough to get significant rewards points, and use the rewards you earn.
They can also come with high annual fees that may end up nullifying the rewards, so think how often you use the card to decide whether the benefits outweigh the extra cost for you. A card with a lower annual fee might require a lot of spending to get any useful rewards, while another card with a higher annual fee might need fewer purchases to get a reward.
Also, think about the types of benefits you’d like. There’s no point in getting a card with rewards for retailers you never visit, or travel you don’t have time to use.