One strategy to help lower your credit utilization ratio — the percentage of your total available credit that you’re using at any one time and a big factor in determining your credit score — is the 15/3 credit card payment method.
In most cases, people make one credit card payment, often right at the card’s due date. With the 15/3 credit card payment method, you make two payments each statement period. You pay half of your credit card bill 15 days before the due date, and then make another payment three days before the due date on your statement.
What Is the 15/3 Credit Card Payment Method?
With the 15/3 rule for credit cards, instead of making one payment each month on or near the credit card payment due date, you make two payments every month. You make the first payment about 15 days before your statement date (about halfway through the statement cycle), and the second payment three days before your credit card statement is actually due.
How Does the 15/3 Credit Card Payment Work?
The way credit cards work in most cases is that you make purchases throughout the month. At the end of your statement period (usually about a month), the credit card company sends you a statement with all of your charges and your total statement balance. In an ideal situation, you’d then send a check or electronic payment to your credit card company, paying off the total amount due.
As an example, say you have a credit card with a $5,000 credit limit, and you regularly make about $3,000 in purchases each month. In a typical situation, you might make an electronic payment for $3,000 to the credit card company at the end of the statement period. But just before your payment clears, you’d have a 60% utilization ratio ($3,000 divided by $5,000), which is quite high.
If you use the 15 and 3 credit card payment method, you would make one payment (for around $1,500) 15 days before your statement is due. Then, three days before your due date, you would make an additional payment to pay off the remaining $1,500 in purchases. Making credit card payments bi-monthly means that your credit utilization ratio never goes over 30%, which is the percentage generally recommended.
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Why the 15/3 Credit Card Payment Method Works
When you’re using a credit card, your credit utilization ratio is constantly fluctuating as you make additional charges and/or payments to your account. The way that the 15/3 credit card payment trick works is by making one additional payment each month. That additional payment can help lower your credit utilization ratio throughout the month, which can be beneficial to your credit score.
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Reduced Credit Card Utilization Through the 15/3 Method
Even if you regularly pay your credit card balance in full each and every month, you may still be carrying a balance throughout the month as you make charges. Because your credit utilization is calculated throughout the month, if you rack up a large balance from purchases you make, your credit score may be affected — even if you pay off your credit card bill in full at the end of the month.
When Does the 15/3 Credit Card Payment Method Work?
While there’s no harm in making two payments each month, most people who are already paying their credit card balances in full each month are unlikely to see a huge benefit. One scenario where the 15/3 credit card method might make sense, however, is if you have a relatively low credit limit relative to your overall monthly spending. If you regularly approach or hit your credit limit in the middle of the month, making a payment in the middle of the month can have a relatively big impact on your credit utilization ratio and thus your credit score.
Another possible reason to pay on a bi-monthly basis instead of only once a month is if you have outstanding credit card debt that you’re working to pay down. If you make only the credit card minimum payment, you’ll end up paying a large amount of interest before you pay off your balance. By paying every two weeks instead, you end up making additional payments, which can help lower the total amount of interest that you have to pay before your balance is completely paid off.
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Pros and Cons of Using the 15/3 Credit Card Payment Method
While there are certainly upsides to taking advantage of the 15/3 credit card payment method, there are possible downsides to consider as well:
|Can help reduce your overall credit utilization||Paying bi-monthly may be harder to keep track of|
|Useful if need your credit score to be as high as possible because you’re applying for a mortgage or other loan||May not provide much benefit in most scenarios|
|Can help you to pay down debt faster||Can stretch finances if your income is irregular|
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Using the 15/3 Credit Card Payment Method: What to Know
Should you use the 15/3 credit card payment method? Like most financial advice, it depends on your specific financial situation.
In most cases, the 15/3 rule for credit cards won’t provide a ton of benefit and may not be worth the extra organizational and logistical headache. However, it may make sense if you’re paying off existing debt, have a low overall credit limit, or need to keep your credit score up for a specific period of time (like when you’re applying for a mortgage).
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The 15/3 credit card payment rule is a strategy that involves making two payments each month to your credit card company. You make one payment 15 days before your statement is due and another payment three days before the due date. By doing this, you can lower your overall credit utilization ratio, which can raise your credit score.
Keeping a good credit score is important if you want to apply for new credit cards. When considering your next new credit card, you might look at a cash-back rewards credit card like the SoFi Credit Card. With the SoFi Credit Card, you can earn cash-back rewards, apply them toward your balance, redeem points into stock or crypto in a SoFi Active Invest account, and more. Learn more and submit a credit card application today with SoFi.
What is the 15/3 rule in credit?
When you have a credit card, most people usually make one payment each month, when their statement is due. With the 15/3 credit card rule, you instead make two payments. The first payment comes 15 days before the statement’s due date, and you make the second payment three days before your credit card due date.
How do you do the 15/3 payment?
When you do the 15/3 credit card payment hack, you simply make an additional payment to your credit card issuer each month. Instead of only paying at the end of the statement, you make one payment about halfway through your statement (15 days before it’s due) and a second payment right before the due date (three days before it’s due).
Does the 15/3 payment method work?
In most cases, you won’t see a ton of impact to your credit score by using the 15/3 payment method. Your credit utilization ratio is only one factor that makes up your credit score, and making multiple payments each month is unlikely to make a big difference. One scenario where it might have an impact is if you have a relatively low overall credit limit compared to the amount of purchases you make each month.
Does it hurt credit to make multiple payments a month?
While most people won’t see a ton of benefit from using the 15/3 payment method to make multiple payments a month, it won’t hurt either. There isn’t a downside to making multiple payments other than making sure you have the money in your bank account for the payment and can handle the logistics of organizing multiple payments.
Photo credit: iStock/Vladimir Sukhachev
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