All About Gas Credit Cards

All About Gas Credit Cards

For many people, gas and fuel purchases are one of the biggest parts of the monthly budget. So it’s no wonder that many people look for ways to save on gas. Gas credit cards can be one option to earn a rebate on gas purchases, either in the form of cash back or other types of credit card rewards.

There are many different types of gas credit cards, each with their own pros and cons. Some gas credit cards work only at one particular chain of gas stations, while others offer rewards no matter where you buy gas and may even give rewards on some non-fuel purchases. Understanding the different types of gas credit cards can help you choose the best gas credit card for your specific situation.

Recommended: Average Gas Prices by State

What Is a Gas Credit Card?

A gas credit card is a term that can refer to a number of different types of credit cards. One might be a standard credit card that earns bonus credit card points on all gas purchases. Another type of gas credit card is one that is co-branded with an actual gas station and gives rewards at that gas station. There are also gas credit cards that are designed more for companies with large fleets of vehicles.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score?

How Do Gas Credit Cards Work?

Gas credit cards work in much the same way that any other credit cards work. Most gas credit cards run on a major credit card processing network like Visa, Mastercard, or American Express. That means that even if you might think of it as a gas credit card, it can be used anywhere those types of cards are accepted.

Types of Gas Credit Cards

There are a few different types of gas credit cards put out by various credit card issuers. Here are a few of the most common types of cards to consider if you want to save money on gas.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card?

General-Purpose Gas Credit Cards

General-purpose gas credit cards are credit cards that earn rewards on a variety of different purchases. They may have gas as one possible bonus category, or they may earn the same high rewards rate on all purchases. The SoFi credit card is an example of a cash-back rewards credit card that allows you to earn cash back on all purchases, including at gas stations.

Gas Station Co-Branded Credit Cards

A gas station co-branded credit card is generally marketed and primarily branded for one particular gas station (BP, Shell, Marathon, etc.). These types of cards are often referred to as “co-branded” because they are branded with both a gas station brand and the brand of the bank that issues it. While these are also usually part of a major credit card processing network like Visa or Mastercard, the rewards they earn are typically targeted to the main “branded” gas station chain.

Fleet Gas Cards

A fleet gas card or fleet fuel card is a different type of gas credit card entirely, and is targeted more toward businesses that have to manage a large fleet of vehicles. A transportation manager can give fleet cards to individual employees, allowing them to pay for things like fuel, repairs, and maintenance without having to pay out of pocket and get reimbursed. The transportation manager can then track and account for all of the disparate charges centrally.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card?

How Different Types of Gas Cards Compare

If you’re choosing a rewards credit card, there are a few questions that you’ll want to ask yourself:

•   Ease of use: Is this a gas card that can only be used at one particular gas station, or can it be used anywhere?

•   Rewards: Does the reward structure of the card match up with your spending patterns?

•   Fees: What kind of fees does the card have? Avoiding credit card fees is an important part of choosing the right card.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Which Type of Gas Credit Card Is Right for You?

Trying to determine what’s the best credit card for gas for you? Here’s a look at who two of the most common types of gas credit cards may suit.

Who Gas Rewards Cards Are Best For

The following types of people might be best served by a general purpose credit card that happens to offer rewards on gas purchases:

•   Consumers who frequently shop at multiple different gas stations.

•   Infrequent travelers who spend much more in other categories than they do at gas stations.

•   People looking to maximize their credit card miles or cash back.

Who Gas Station Credit Cards Are Best For

These consumers might find that the best gas credit card for them is a gas station credit card:

•   Consumers who spend an above average amount at gas stations.

•   Travelers who frequently fill up at the same gas station chain every time.

•   Employees who are given a gas station credit card by their employer and are mandated to use it.

Are Gas Credit Cards Generally Worth It?

For many consumers, gas and fuel purchases are one of the biggest spending categories each month. Just like improving gas mileage, earning cash back or other credit card rewards can help offset some of your fuel cost each month. Just make sure to compare the different gas card options to find the best gas credit card for your situation.

The Takeaway

There are a variety of different cards that can be considered gas credit cards. Some gas credit cards are more general rewards credit cards that happen to give a bonus on gas purchases. Other gas station cards have rewards targeted to one particular gas station brand. Still other gas cards are used by companies with large fleets to help manage their transportation expenses.

One general purpose gas credit card is the SoFi credit card. You can earn cash-back rewards points on gas and all other purchases when you apply and are approved for a SoFi credit card.

FAQ

Is there a credit card only for gas?

There are some gas credit cards that work only at specific gas stations and do not work for other purchases. Other gas cards are branded with a particular gas station’s color and branding (such as BP, Shell, or Marathon) but are still part of a major credit processing network (like Visa, Mastercard, or American Express). That means that you can use the card anywhere those networks are accepted.

What is the best fuel card to get?

The best fuel card to get is the one that maximizes the rewards based on your unique and specific spending patterns. If you always shop at the same gas station, you might be better off with a card that’s specific to that brand. If you shop at different gas stations or want to earn rewards on non-fuel purchases, you may want to consider a more generic rewards credit card that happens to also earn rewards on gas purchases.

Do gas cards help build credit?

Whether gas cards help build credit depends on specifically what kind of gas credit card it is. If it is a store-specific card that is not part of a major credit card processing network, it likely does not report purchases and credit history to the major credit bureaus. In that case, it likely will not help you build your credit history.


Photo credit: iStock/kckate16




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.


Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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No Annual Fee and No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards

No Annual Fee and No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards

If you bought something while traveling in a foreign country, you might get charged what’s known as a foreign transaction fee. On top of that cost, you could also pay an annual fee on your credit card, which is essentially a charge just for the privilege of using the card.

Depending on the credit card issuer and the card, there are specific rules around these fees and how much they run. Plus, there are some credit cards with no foreign transaction fees and no annual fees at all.

Opting for a no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee credit card may seem like the obvious choice when selecting a card — and often it is. However, there are some scenarios when avoiding fees won’t be a cardholder’s top priority.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card?

What Are Foreign Transaction Fees and When Are They Applied?

As mentioned, a foreign transaction fee is a charge that you might pay when you make a purchase on your credit card while in a foreign country. For instance, you might get charged a foreign transaction fee when buying a ticket to visit a museum or dining at a restaurant abroad. These fees might also get tacked on when you take out money from an ATM in another country.

You don’t necessarily have to be in a foreign country to get charged a foreign transaction fee though. Sometimes, a foreign transaction fee might kick in if you’re buying something from a company that’s based in a foreign country and that processes the transaction in its local currency. For instance, let’s say you buy a pair of shoes from a retailer based in France. If the purchase is processed in Euros, you might be charged a foreign transaction fee.

A foreign transaction fee is typically based on a percentage of the transaction amount. For instance, if your card charged a 2% foreign transaction and you bought an item that cost $100, the foreign transaction fee would be $2.

Foreign transaction fees are a common credit card fee that will show up on your credit card statement, and they can make your travels more expensive. Let’s say you spend $4,000 on a trip overseas, and your credit card charges a 2% foreign transaction fee. In that case, you’d pay $80 extra to cover the cost of foreign transaction fees.

How Much Are Foreign Transaction Fees?

The amount of foreign transaction fees varies depending on the credit card issuer. That being said, most foreign transaction fees range anywhere from 1% to 3% of the transaction amount. Many cards don’t have a foreign transaction fee.

One thing to note: Foreign transaction fees are different from currency conversion fees. In some cases, you might get hit with a double whammy and be charged both. You could also face a credit card convenience fee, depending on where you use your card.

Foreign Transaction Fees by Credit Card Issuers

Let’s take a look at foreign transaction fees charged by the major credit card issuers. On average, here’s how much they can run, depending on which card you’re using and the issuing bank or credit union:

Credit Card Issuer

Average Foreign Transaction Fee

Visa 0% or 3%
Mastercard 0% or 3%
Discover 0%
American Express 0% to 2.7%

Recommended: How Credit Cards Work

What Are Annual Credit Card Fees and When Are They Applied?

Some cards come with an annual credit card fee. This fee is a yearly charge collected by a credit card issuer in order to use the card. Often, paying an annual credit card fee allows cardholders to tap into special perks and benefits, such as higher credit card points earnings on purchases, extended warranties and price protection, and travel or cash back perks.

The annual credit card fee will turn up on your credit card statement once a year as a single, lump sum charge. Usually you’re charged during the same billing cycle or month in which you initially signed up for the card. Once you pay the annual fee, the next time you’ll get charged is in 12 billing cycles.

You’ll cover a card’s annual fee just like you would any other purchase you put on your card. The fee will show up on your card and get folded into your statement.

How Much Are Annual Fees, Typically?

The amount of an annual fee depends largely on the card, but in general, annual fees can run anywhere from $95 per year to upwards of $500. There are a number of credit cards available that don’t charge an annual fee. And some that do also offer the opportunity to get the fee waived.

Do Cards With No Annual Fees Tend to Also Have No Foreign Transaction Fees?

Whether cards that skip out on charging annual fees will also have no foreign transaction fees really depends. There’s no hard-and-fast rule. In some instances, a card might have an annual fee but no foreign transaction fee. On the flip side, a credit card might have a foreign transaction fee but no annual fee. Or, a card could charge both fees or neither fee.

Before opening an account, it’s important to read the fine print and comb through the terms and fees of a given credit card. This will outline the fees a card might charge as well as the rate of credit card purchase interest charges. That way, you’ll know what you’re getting into with any given card.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

No Annual Fee and No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards: Who They’re Great For

Let’s take a look at when a one-two punch of a credit card with no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee might best benefit you.

Online Shoppers

If you do a lot of your shopping online, particularly through brands that aren’t U.S.-based, you might find a no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee credit card beneficial. That way, if you happen to buy something from a merchant based in a foreign country and credit card processing is done in their local currency, you can save on foreign transaction fees.

Plus, if you have a strong credit score and can snag a card that offers a better-than-average rate of cash-back rewards or points, you might not need to splurge on a card with an annual fee to gain access to added perks.

Recommended: Cash Back Credit Card Study

International Travelers

Foreign transaction fees can rack up quickly if you’re putting purchases on your card while traveling in other countries. For instance, if you spend $5,000 on your credit card while on a trip overseas, and your card charges 3% for foreign transaction fees, that could cost you an additional $150.

To avoid this expenditure, you might be better off looking for a card that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees. You’ll further avoid cuts to your travel budget by skipping out on paying an annual fee.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score?

No Annual Fee and No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards: Who They’re Bad For

If you fall within one of the following groups, you might not find that it’s worthwhile to focus on finding a credit card with no annual fee and foreign transaction fee.

People Who Want the Most Rewards and Perks

For those looking for the most competitive rewards rate, lucrative travel perks, or a sizable welcome bonus, then a credit card with an annual fee might be their best bet. By taking advantage of these benefits offered by the card, you could still come out ahead even with the annual fee, as the perks can effectively offset the cost of the fee.

Just make sure to do the math ahead of time and ensure you’ll take enough advantage of the available perks before agreeing to a hefty annual fee.

Recommended: Choosing a Rewards Credit Card

Those With Poor or Limited Credit

If you have poor credit or a limited credit history, you might not be faced with the choice of credit card miles vs. cash back when choosing a card. Instead, your options may be pretty limited. For those in this situation, a credit card that charges an annual fee and/or foreign transaction fees may still be their best — or only — available option.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Tips for Save on Credit Card Fees When Traveling Abroad

Hoping to avoid credit card fees while you’re out of the country? Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

•   Ask about fees ahead of time. If you’re not sure which of your credit cards does or does not charge foreign transaction fees, it can pay to ask ahead of time. Then, you can opt to avoid using a card with a hefty rate for foreign transaction fees while you’re traveling. Even if you can’t avoid these fees entirely due to the credit cards you have, you’ll at least avoid a surprise when you get home from your trip and be able to spend more strategically.

•   Consider getting a no foreign transaction fee credit card. If you have the time ahead of your trip, can weather a dip in your credit, and are in the market for a new card, then getting a credit card with no foreign transaction fees — like the SoFi Credit Card — can make sense. This is especially true if you have a number of trips abroad planned for the future.

•   Exchange cash before leaving the country. Another way to dodge fees while traveling is to exchange U.S. dollars for the local currency in the country you’re visiting before you leave. This will allow you to avoid potentially costly trips to the ATM and added fees when swiping your credit card. Just make sure to take safety into consideration before taking out a huge amount of cash.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card?

The Takeaway

A no annual fee no foreign transaction fee credit card can save you money — especially if it comes with its own set of perks that you don’t have to pay extra for. Plus, you don’t have to keep as close an eye on your spending abroad so you can better kick back and enjoy the sights.

If you’re shopping around for a credit card, the SoFi credit card is an option with no foreign transaction fees. Plus, you can earn competitive cash-back rewards.

FAQ

What does it mean when a credit card has no foreign transaction fees?

A credit card with no foreign transaction fee means that you won’t get dinged with a fee should you make a purchase in a foreign country. Depending on how much you end up spending while traveling, it could save you a significant chunk of change.

Why are no annual fees important?

A credit card with no annual fee means money you don’t have to spend. Plus, you won’t have to work as hard for the annual fee to pay off. In other words, you won’t have to strategize to make the most of any special perks, nor will you need to worry about spending a certain amount to offset the cost.

Is 3% foreign transaction fee a lot?

A 3% foreign transaction fee is on the high end of average. The rate of foreign transaction fees can vary, but they typically run anywhere from 1% to 3%, with some cards not charging any foreign transaction fees.


Photo credit: iStock/RgStudio




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.


Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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What Is the Minimum Age to Be an Authorized User on a Credit Card?

What Is the Minimum Age to Be an Authorized User on a Credit Card?

How old an authorized user has to be really depends on the credit card issuer. Some set the minimum age for an authorized user on a credit card at 13, while others require that an authorized user is 15 or even 16. Many issuers don’t specify a minimum age requirement at all.

In other words, it’s largely up to the adult’s discretion whether a minor seems old enough to become an authorized user. While it can serve as an educational tool and help build their credit, it also can lead to racking up debt and impacting both parties’ credit. You’ll want to make sure you know what you’re getting into in order to determine if it’s the right arrangement for you.

How Old Does an Authorized User Have to Be?

While the minimum age to get a credit card of your own is 18, an authorized user on a credit card can be as young as 13.

That being said, the minimum age for an authorized user on a credit card ultimately depends on the credit card company, as each issuer has its own age requirements. Some set the minimum age to 13 years old, while others may make authorized users wait to get a credit card at 16 or 15. Some credit card issuers don’t specify a minimum age for authorized users on credit cards.

Factors to Consider Before Adding a Minor as an Authorized User

Before you add a minor as a credit card authorized user, consider the following factors.

Whether You’ll Have to Pay a Fee

Depending on the card, you might have to pay an additional annual fee to add an authorized user. The fee might apply per authorized user, or it may cover, say, three users added to your account.

Check with your card card issuer to see if you might get hit with a fee for adding authorized users to your account.

If They’re Old Enough to Handle the Responsibility

Even if you can add an authorized user as young as 13 to your card, doing so might not be in your best interest — or theirs. For instance, a child in their early teens might not have a basic grasp of managing finances, or they might not be mature enough to handle the financial responsibility and abide by basic credit card rules.

If you’re adding your minor as an authorized user to help them establish credit, a few years is enough time for them to be on their way. Plus, should you slip on your credit, it could also impact your child’s credit.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

How You’ll Track the User’s Purchases

Most credit cards don’t issue unique card numbers to each authorized user. That means if you have multiple authorized users on an account, you won’t be able to easily figure out who made which purchases. Before you go ahead with adding an authorized user, make sure you have a system worked out so you’re not stuck covering their spending.

Whether You’ll Give Access to the Card

While you can give an authorized user their own card, you don’t have to, especially if you’re worried about how they’ll spend with it. If you’re strictly adding a child to your card to help them build credit, there’s no need to hand them a card. They don’t need to have access to your credit card number, either.

Steps to Add a Minor as an Authorized User

First and foremost, you’ll want to carefully weigh the pros and cons of adding someone under the age of 18 as an authorized user. If you have decided that you want to proceed, you’ll need to do the following.

1. Educate the Child About Credit Card Basics

Before adding a minor as an authorized user and giving them the privilege to spend on your card, sit them down and walk them through how credit cards work. For instance, you’ll want to explain what a credit limit is, how interest rates work, what one’s financial responsibility is when putting purchases on a card, and why it’s beneficial to build credit.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit?

2. Reach Out to the Credit Card Company

Next, you’ll need to contact the credit card company to let them know you’d like to add an authorized user to your card. You can do so by calling the number on the back of the card, or by logging onto your account online.

You usually need to provide the following information about the individual you’re adding as an authorized user:

•   Name

•   Date of birth

•   Social Security number

•   Address (for them to receive the card)

•   Additionally, you may be able to set spending limits or restrictions for the authorized user at this point in the process.

3. Check Your Account

To make sure the authorized user was correctly added, log on to your account on the issuer’s website or through the app. Double-check to make sure the minor’s name and details are all correct. You might also receive an email notification informing you of this change.

The Cost of Adding an Authorized User

Many credit card issuers do not charge a fee to add an authorized user to an account. However, premium credit cards or cards that already charge annual fees, may charge an annual fee for adding authorized users. This fee may apply per authorized user, or you may pay a flat cost for up to a certain number of users.

Beyond this potential fee, there are other costs you could incur by adding an authorized user. For instance, additional purchases made by the authorized user could cause you to rack up a balance. Plus, their activity can impact your credit utilization, which could hurt your credit score.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card?

Pros and Cons of Adding a Minor as an Authorized User

Here’s an overview of the advantages and downsides of adding a minor as an authorized user to your credit card:

Pros

Cons

Helps to build credit May cause you to rack up debt
Allows you to earn more rewards Can’t easily track who’s making purchases
Serves as an educational tool Can impact credit of both primary cardholder and authorized user

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score?

Pros

Adding an authorized user can have the following benefits:

•   Helps to build credit: A major upside of adding a minor as an authorized user is that it will help them establish credit at a young age. They’ll have a more firm financial footing as a result.

•   Allows you to earn more rewards: Another person making purchases on your card means there’s greater potential to earn more rewards. You can more quickly than if you would if you were the sole user.

•   Serves as an educational tool: If you take the time to teach them, adding a minor as an authorized user to your card can help your child learn credit basics and how to manage credit card debt.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card?

Cons

Beware of the potential downsides of having an authorized as well:

•   May cause you to rack up debt: It can be easy to rack up debt and overspend on the credit card with an authorized user. This is especially possible if you’re giving a child access to your card who is still wrapping their head around financial basics.

•   Can’t easily track who is making the purchases: Because purchases aren’t tracked by the authorized user, it might be tough to figure out which person was responsible for which transaction with your card. This is particularly tricky when you have, say, a joint account user and several authorized users.

•   Can impact credit of both primary cardholder and authorized user: If having several users on your card equates to carrying a higher balance, that can up your credit utilization ratio. As credit usage makes up 30% of your credit score, you’ll want to keep that ratio under 30%. Beyond potentially hurting your credit, also know that any irresponsible credit behavior on your card can hurt your authorized user’s credit. For instance, if you are late on a credit card payment, both your credit and the credit of the minor you added to your card can suffer.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due?

Tips for Managing a Minor as an Authorized User

If those possible downsides are making you nervous, here are a few things you can do to ensure your minor uses their privileges responsibly:

•   Set limits. Talk to your child and give them an amount they can spend on the card each billing cycle. Also, determine if they’ll be responsible for helping you pay off their share. Or perhaps you might consider an alternative arrangement, such as doing chores around the house to cover purchases they made on their credit card. Hash this out beforehand.

•   Treat the card as a teaching tool. Sit down with your child and go over basics of a credit card, such as how interest fees work, how to read a billing statement, and what can happen if you’re late or miss a payment. You’ll also want to teach them how repayment works.

•   Set alerts. To keep an eye on your child’s spending, consider setting alerts on your credit card. You can set it up so you get notifications for transactions over a certain amount, or any transactions made online, in person, or over the phone.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Removing a Minor as an Authorized User

Removing a minor as an authorized user from a credit card is a relatively simple and painless process. To do so, you call the number on the back of the card and let them know the name of the person you’d like taken off. If you have several authorized users on a card, be sure to specify which card user you’re removing.

It’s not a bad idea to leave a paper trail and send a letter to the credit card company reiterating that you’ve requested the change over the phone.

The Takeaway

The minimum age for an authorized user on a credit card varies depending on the credit card issuer. Some require an authorized user to be 13, while others set the age limit at 15 or 16, or even have no formal limit at all.

While you can add a minor as an authorized user on a credit card, you’ll want to carefully weigh the pros and cons before doing so. If you decide to add a child as a user, set some ground rules and teach them credit and financial basics beforehand.

Looking for your next credit card? If you get the SoFi Credit Card, you can earn generous cash-back rewards on all purchases.

FAQ

Do some issuers allow authorized users with no minimum age?

Usually the minimum age requirement to add an authorized user to a credit card is at least 13. However, there are several credit card issuers that don’t note a specific minimum age.

How many authorized users can I add to my account?

It depends on the credit card issuer. Some allow up to four, while others allow up to seven. Some credit card issuers have no limit as to how many authorized users you can add to a credit card. The number of authorized users might also depend on what type of card it is, such as a rewards or travel credit card.

Is an authorized user relationship or a joint account holder better?

It depends on what kind of privileges you want the additional card user to have and the reason you’d like to add them. If you want to help boost someone’s credit and not have them responsible for making payments, then an authorized user could be the better route. If you’d like the user to be equally responsible for making payments and have access to make changes on the account, a joint account holder might make sense.


Photo credit: iStock/Manuel Tauber-Romieri



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 website .


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Guide to Credit Card Outstanding Balance

Guide to Credit Card Outstanding Balance

Your credit card statement can feel like information overload with all of its numbers and terminology. Understanding the definition of terms like outstanding balance, statement balance, and billing cycle can help you to navigate this monthly statement a little more easily.

So what is an outstanding balance, how is it different from a statement balance, and can it affect your credit score? Put simply, the outstanding balance on a credit card is what the amount of money you still owe to the credit card company is called. Knowing this figure is important to avoiding interest and potential effects on your credit.

What Is an Outstanding Balance on a Credit Card?

Outstanding balance is another way to express current balance. In fact, depending on your credit card issuer, your monthly statement and mobile app may use the term “current balance” instead of “outstanding balance.”

But what is an outstanding balance in credit card terminology? A credit card outstanding balance is simply the amount of money you have not paid to the credit card issuer — i.e., it’s what you still owe.

Your outstanding balance includes any purchases you have made on your credit card but have not yet paid off (from the current and previous billing cycles), but it also includes:

•   Interest earned on previous balances

•   Balance transfers (and any balance transfer fees)

•   Cash advances

•   Any other fees you may owe, like late fees or foreign transaction fees

Recommended: Closing a Credit Card with a Balance

Where to Find Your Outstanding Balance on a Credit Card

You can check your outstanding balance by calling your credit card issuer or accessing your account online or through the mobile app. Depending on the terminology the company uses, you may see the outstanding balance listed as your current balance or simply your credit card balance.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

Current Balance vs Outstanding Balance

Current balance is simply another term for outstanding balance. Depending on your credit card issuer, you might see one term or the other used. In some cases, it may simply be labeled “account balance” or “credit card balance.”

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Statement Balance vs Outstanding Balance

So what’s the difference between a credit card statement balance and outstanding balance? Your credit card statement balance is the total amount owed after a billing cycle. It can include any purchases made during the billing cycle, plus any balance, interest, and fees carried over from the previous billing cycle.

Once issued, the statement balance amount does not change, even if you continue to swipe your card for more purchases during the grace period (this is the period between statement closing date and due date, during which you won’t earn interest on your unpaid statement balance). As long as you pay off the statement balance in full by the due date, you should not accrue any interest.

Your outstanding balance encompasses everything you owe at a specific moment in time. Sometimes your outstanding balance can be higher than your statement balance; sometimes it may be lower. Consider this example:

Your billing cycle ends, and you now have a statement balance of $1,000. In the next week, you spend $500 more with your credit card. Your statement balance remains $1,000, while your outstanding balance grows to $1,500. But as long as you pay that $1,000 statement balance by the due date, you will not incur any interest — and your statement balance will drop to $0 until the end of the next billing cycle.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Remaining Balance vs Outstanding Balance

Remaining balance refers to whatever amount is still due after you’ve made your monthly credit card payment. For example, if your statement balance is $500 but you only pay $300, your remaining balance is $200. This, along with the interest it accrues, becomes a part of your outstanding balance.

You can avoid accruing interest on a remaining balance by paying off your statement balance in full each month rather than only the credit card minimum payment.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

What Is an Average Outstanding Balance?

The typical amount of an outstanding balance can vary widely from person to person — it all depends on how much you use your credit card, what your credit limit is, and whether you carry a balance. That being said, your average outstanding balance is simply the amount you owe on a credit card, averaged over a certain period of time.

The average outstanding balance formula for a statement period would be the total of your balance for each day of the statement period, divided by the number of days in the cycle. This can be helpful to know given most credit card issuers calculate interest on a daily basis, based on your average daily account balance.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Paying Your Credit Card Outstanding Balance: What to Know

The nuances of credit card balances can be tough to nail down, but understanding how they work — particularly outstanding balances — may help you avoid interest and impacts to your credit score.

Here’s the short version:

•   Paying the minimum balance due each month will help you avoid late fees and negative marks for late payments on your credit report.

•   Paying the statement balance in full by the due date will keep you from accruing interest.

•   Paying down the outstanding balance, or current balance, even outside of your normal payment cycle, can reduce your overall credit utilization, which influences your credit score.

How Interest Contributes to Outstanding Balances

When you make purchases with your credit card throughout a billing cycle, the card issuer has lent you money to cover the expenses. And if you don’t pay the lender the statement balance in full by the specified due date, any remaining balance will become part of your outstanding balance — and it will start accruing interest.

The best way to avoid paying credit card interest is to pay your statement balance in full by each due date.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

How an Outstanding Balance Affects Your Credit Score

When you carry over unpaid balances, you’ll do more than earn interest that you have to pay. You’ll also increase your overall credit utilization, which is the amount of your total available credit you’re using. That’s because your outstanding balance counts toward your credit limit.

For example, if your credit limit is $5,000 and your outstanding balance is $2,500, you’ve utilized 50% of your credit limit. In general, creditors prefer to see a credit utilization of 30% or lower. This signals to them that you can responsibly pay back your debts.

In fact, credit utilization is the second most important factor affecting your FICO credit score. It accounts for 30% of your overall credit score. Thus, carrying a high outstanding balance regularly can adversely affect your credit score.

For this reason, experts typically recommend paying off your full statement balance every month if you’re able. And if you make a large payment on your credit card during a billing cycle that increases your outstanding balance tremendously, you may want to pay it off early to reduce your credit utilization — or else you chance a drop in your credit score.

Recommended: What Happens If You Overpay Your Credit Card?

The Takeaway

Credit cards can be confusing, especially when you’re new to the terminology. But once you understand how your statement and outstanding balances work and can responsibly make payments in full and on time, credit cards can be a great tool for boosting your credit score.

FAQ

Does outstanding balance mean past due?

Having an outstanding balance does not necessarily mean it’s past due. Your credit card requires a minimum monthly payment; if you have satisfied that payment, you do not need to immediately pay your outstanding balance. But keep in mind that you generally need to pay the full statement balance each month to avoid accruing interest.

How do I clear the outstanding balance on my credit card?

To clear the outstanding balance on a credit card, you can make a payment equal to the amount. This should bring the balance down to zero. However, you do not always have to pay your outstanding, or current, balance to avoid interest. Paying your monthly statement balance in full should keep you from accruing interest, even if your outstanding balance is higher.

Why is my outstanding balance negative?

Your credit card outstanding balance can go negative if you pay off the card and then receive a credit for a returned item or claim cash-back rewards from your purchases. If you want, you can request a check from the credit card issuer in the amount of the negative balance. Or, you can apply the negative balance on a credit card toward future purchases on the credit card.


Photo credit: iStock/SARINYAPINNGAM



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 website .


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How Does Being an Authorized User Affect Your Credit Score?

How Does Being an Authorized User Affect Your Credit Score?

If you’re new to credit or want to rebuild your credit, becoming an authorized user on another person’s credit card account can help. As an authorized user on a credit card, your credit score can be positively impacted when the account and its activity are reported to the credit bureaus. The card’s activity is still also reported under the primary account holder’s credit profile, in addition to yours.

Being an authorized user does have its share of responsibilities. You’ll want to make sure to maintain responsible credit card habits as an authorized user to help your credit, as well as to avoid adversely impacting the primary account holder’s credit.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

What It Means to Be an Authorized User

When you’re an authorized user, you have a credit card that’s attached to another person’s account. This duplicate credit card, also known as a supplementary credit card, will have your name on it, and you’ll be able to use it to make purchases. Since you’re not the primary account holder, you won’t have the authority to make changes to the account.

As an authorized user, you’re not legally responsible for making a payment after each billing cycle. That responsibility remains solely with the original cardholder, which marks a major distinction between an authorized user relationship and a joint credit card account. Since you’re not liable for repaying the charges as an authorized user, you might not get a monthly statement.

In terms of getting started as an authorized user, be aware that some issuers impose an annual fee to add authorized users to a card account. Additionally, some credit cards have limits for the maximum number of authorized users permitted on an account.

Further, card issuers often have a minimum age requirement that you must meet as an authorized user. The age requirement depends on the issuer. For example, SoFi requires authorized users to be at least 15 years old, while the minimum authorized user age for an American Express Platinum Card is 13 years old.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

How Being an Authorized User Affects Your Credit Score

There are a couple of ways that being an authorized user on a credit card can affect your credit score.

If the Lender Reports Authorized Users to Credit Bureaus

If your main goal in becoming an authorized user is establishing credit or rebuilding your credit history, this can be a viable option to pursue. Card issuers don’t require a credit check to become authorized use.

However, your credit score can be positively affected if the issuer reports satisfactory payment activity and usage to the credit bureaus for all persons named on the account. Keep in mind that not all credit card companies send activity data to the bureaus for authorized users though. So before going this route, ask the primary user to confirm whether it does.

How You Use the Shared Account

If the bank reports the card’s positive activity to credit bureaus for all users, it will also report unsatisfactory activity. Being an authorized user can hurt your credit if a late or missed payment is reported and included on an authorized user’s credit profile, for example. On the flipside, on-time payments or a low credit utilization rate can help the credit of both the primary and authorized users.

Since the card data that’s included for an authorized user depends on the credit bureau, ask the credit issuer to specify which credit agency it reports to. That way, you’re aware of the factors that affect credit scores.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Risks Associated With Being an Authorized User

A major risk of becoming an authorized user on a credit card is that it can adversely affect your credit score. If the primary user fails to make at least the minimum monthly payment on time, for instance, that will also impact your score, assuming the bureau reports payment history for authorized users.

Additionally, the purchase behavior of all users on a card could put a strain on the account’s limit, pushing balances near or at the borrowing limit. This will affect the credit utilization on the account, which also can impact the credit score of all users on the account.

With so many factors that need to be in balance, each user associated with the card must have a clear understanding of purchase and repayment expectations. If an individual drops the ball, it can put a strain on the relationship in addition to the users’ credit scores.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

Who Should You Ask to Add You as an Authorized User?

Asking another person to add you as an authorized user on their credit card is significant. It requires the utmost mutual trust, which is why this individual is typically someone who’s very close to you. This might include your:

•   Spouse or partner

•   Parent

•   Grandparent

•   Adult child

•   Adult sibling

•   Aunt or uncle

It’s helpful to clarify expectations around payment before being added as an authorized user. For example, do they want to cap your spending power on the card? When do they want payment for your charges? What’s the expectation if, for any unforeseen reason, you can’t cover your part of the bill?

Even though the primary cardholder is liable for the payments, it’s helpful to come to an agreement about how you two will settle your purchases, one-on-one.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

Using Your Credit Card Responsibly

Receiving authorized user status on a credit card is a convenient way to build your credit profile. It also can help you practice responsible borrowing habits. A few sensible practices when using a credit card as an authorized user include to:

•   Avoid overspending. Examine your budget before using your card to verify that you can afford the purchase.

•   Ensure payments are made on time. Communicate with the primary cardholder to confirm that at least the minimum payment is made by the due date. If you’re covering your portion of the charges, make sure to get the money to the primary cardholder by the date you agreed upon.

•   Be mindful of the card’s limit. Avoid keeping an ongoing, high balance, which can negatively affect credit. Authorized users might not have access to the account history or statements, so regular communication with the primary user is essential.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

The Takeaway

As an authorized user, your credit score can benefit from the positive borrowing activity on the card, assuming the the issuer reports the account activity to the credit bureaus. Additionally, the card must be managed responsibly — otherwise, your credit could be negatively impacted. Getting added to a card that doesn’t charge an authorized user fee can be a frictionless way to get started.

If you’re looking to get a credit card like this, the SoFi credit card is one option to explore. It allows up to five authorized users on an account at no extra charge. Plus, purchases made by all users — the primary cardholder and their authorized users — earn cash-back rewards.

FAQ

Can authorized users affect your credit?

Having an authorized user on your credit card doesn’t directly impact your credit score. However, if they rack up charges, it might adversely affect your credit utilization ratio, which in turn can lower your credit score.

Additionally, you’re legally liable for all charges the authorized user makes on the card. If they’re unable to pay and you also can’t keep up with the payments, missed or late payments can negatively impact your credit.

Does an authorized user get a hard inquiry?

Typically, authorized users who are added onto an existing account don’t undergo a hard inquiry. Since the primary cardholder is the person who opened the account and is still 100% liable for all charges made to the card, credit issuers usually don’t need to verify the authorized user’s credit background or ability to repay the debt — even if they make charges.


Photo credit: iStock/tolgart



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 website .


Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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