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A Guide to Credit Card Grace Periods

By Austin Kilham · June 27, 2022 · 5 minute read

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A Guide to Credit Card Grace Periods

Your credit card’s grace period is the length of time that starts at the end of your billing cycle and ends when your payment is due. During this period, you may not have to pay interest on your balance — as long as you pay it off in full by your payment due date.

While a lot of credit cards have a grace period, not all of them do. Here’s a look at how grace periods on credit cards work and how you can take full advantage of them.

What Is the Grace Period on a Credit Card?

Credit cards allow you to borrow money over the course of a one-month billing cycle, during which you may not need to pay interest. The end of your credit card billing cycle is also called your statement date. That’s when your monthly credit card statement is sent to you in the mail or becomes available online. Credit card payments are due on the payment due date, about three weeks later. The time in between these dates is what’s known as the grace period.

During this time, you won’t be charged any interest on the purchases that you made during the billing cycle. However, because of how credit card payments work, you must pay off your credit card balance in full by your payment due date in order to avoid interest payments. At the very least, you must make your minimum payment, and you’ll then owe interest on whatever balance you carry into the next month.

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How Credit Card Billing Cycles and Grace Periods Work

Grace periods on credit cards are different from the grace period for other loan products. For example, the grace period for a mortgage lasts about 15 days. If your payment is due on the first of the month, you’d have until mid-month to make your payment before it’s considered late and you’re charged potential late fees.

This is not how credit card grace periods work. The grace period for revolving credit — which is what a credit card is — comes before the payment due date. As such, credit card grace periods don’t protect you from late fees. Rather, they give you a period of time in which you can avoid interest payments.

If you miss the date when credit card payments are due, your payment is considered late. Late payments may trigger penalties, and they can have a negative effect on your credit score if they’re reported to the credit reporting bureaus.

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Limits on Credit Card Grace Periods

Credit card companies are not required to offer their customers a grace period. However, many of them choose to do so.

Federal law requires credit card companies to send you a bill within 21 days of the payment due date, meaning you’ll get at least three weeks’ notice of how much you owe for your previous billing cycle. However, the amount of time you’ll have for your grace period will vary by lender.

Credit card grace periods typically only apply to purchases. That means if you’ve used your credit card for a cash advance, for example, you’ll have to start paying interest on the date of the cash advance transaction.

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How Long Is the Typical Grace Period for a Credit Card?

Typically, grace periods last at least 21 days and up to 25 days.

You can find out how long your grace period is by checking your cardholder agreement. The length of your grace period should be listed alongside fees and your annual percentage rate (APR). You can also call your credit card company and ask them directly.

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What Types of Transactions Are Eligible for Credit Card Grace Periods?

As mentioned above, generally only purchase transactions are eligible for the credit card grace period. Cash advances — which allow you to borrow a certain amount of money against your line of credit — typically are not eligible. They will start accruing interest the day you make the transaction.

Similarly, if you transfer a balance from one credit card to another, you’ll start to accrue interest on that balance immediately. The only exception is if you have a balance transfer credit card with a 0% introductory rate for a period of time. If you pay off the balance during that period, you won’t owe interest. However, interest will accrue on whatever remains of your balance at the end of that period.

Taking Maximum Advantage of Your Credit Card’s Grace Period

If you pay off your credit card bill in full each month, you’ll avoid paying interest. Even carrying a small balance will disrupt your grace periods. If you do, you’ll owe interest on the remaining amount, and all of the new purchases that you make in the next billing cycle will accrue interest immediately as well.

To take full advantage of your credit card’s grace period, plan your purchases accordingly to ensure you’re able to pay your bills in full and on time. For example, if you’re going to make a large purchase, you may want to do so close to the first day of your billing cycle. That way, you’ll have the full cycle (about four weeks), plus your grace period (about three weeks), to pay off your purchase without owing any interest.

Can You Lose Your Credit Card’s Grace Period?

It is possible to lose your credit card grace period if you don’t make on-time payments in full each month by the payment due date. If you lose your grace period, you’ll be charged interest on the remaining portion of your balance. In the new billing cycle, you’ll also owe interest on any new purchases on the day the transaction takes place. This can lead to you falling into a debt cycle, which isn’t easy to get out of (here’s what happens to credit card debt when you die).

Luckily, issuers usually restore grace periods once you’ve paid your outstanding balance and are back to making full on-time payments for a month or two.

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The Takeaway

Your credit card grace period is an important tool that can save you money on interest if you pay off your balance in full each month. If you don’t pay your balance in full each month, you could lose this privilege temporarily. As such, you’d end up owing interest on your previous remaining balance and any new purchases.

In addition to a grace period, the SoFi credit card offers other features to help you manage your finances. This includes 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1 Plus, you can secure a lower APR by making 12 on-time monthly payments of at least the minimum amount due.

FAQ

What is the grace period for credit card payments after the due date?

Credit card grace periods occur before the payment due date. Payments made after that date are considered late. After the due date, cardholders will owe interest on their balance. Further, they may lose their grace period until they can pay their balance off in full for one or two months.

What happens if you are one day late on a credit card payment?

Being one day late on a credit card payment can still trigger late fees, interest, and potentially the loss of your grace period. Late payments may also be reported to the credit reporting bureaus, which can have a negative impact on your credit score.

What is the typical grace period for a credit card?

Federal law requires that credit card companies provide your bill at least 21 days before your next payment due date. The length of the grace period can vary depending on the credit card issuer, though they typically last 21 to 25 days.


Photo credit: iStock/Moyo Studio

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
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The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
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