Guide To Paying a Credit Card in Full vs Over Time

Guide to Paying a Credit Card in Full vs Over Time

In a perfect world, you’d be able to zap away debt in a flash. But the reality is, sprinting through payments on high-interest debt isn’t exactly easy to do. That’s because you’ll still need to juggle staying on top of bills and covering daily expenses, among other financial obligations.

If you’re wondering whether it’s better to pay off your credit card or keep a balance, the answer largely depends on your particular set of circumstances. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of paying off credit cards in full vs. over time to help you determine if you should pay off your credit card in full or space payments out a bit.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Does Paying Down Credit Cards Slowly Affect Your Credit Score?

Paying off credit cards slowly can impact your credit score because it can affect your credit utilization, which makes up 30% of your consumer credit score. When you’re slow to pay off your credit card balance, your credit utilization — or how much of your total credit you’re using — can be higher. A higher credit utilization rate can adversely affect your credit score.

What Is Credit Utilization?

Credit utilization measures how much credit you have against how much credit you’ve used. This ratio is expressed as a percentage. You can find your credit utilization ratio by dividing your total credit card balances by your total credit limits across all of your cards.

How Credit Utilization Works

As we discussed, credit utilization is expressed as a percentage, and you can find it by dividing your credit card balances by your credit limits. As an example, let’s say you have three credit cards, and your total credit limit across those cards is $30,000. The total of your credit card balances on all three cards is $9,000.

In that case, your credit utilization is 30%, as demonstrated by the math below:

Credit limit on Card 1: $8,000
Credit limit on Card 2: $12,000
Credit limit on Card 3: $10,000

Total credit limit: $8,000 + $12,000 + $8,000 = $30,000
Total balances across Cards 1, 2, and 3: $9,000

$9,000 / $30,000 = 0.30, or 30%

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

How Credit Utilization Can Affect Your Score

The lower your credit utilization, the better it is for your credit score. It’s generally recommended to keep your credit utilization ratio under 30% to avoid negative effects on your score. Keeping your score below this threshold indicates to lenders and creditors that you aren’t stretched financially, are a responsible user of credit, and have available credit that you can tap in to.

If you’re wondering, do credit card companies like it when you pay in full? The answer is that it certainly helps with your credit score, as a low credit utilization ratio can positively impact your credit score, and credit card companies generally look more favorably upon higher credit scores.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Differences Between Paying a Credit Card in Full vs Over Time

Trying to determine whether you should pay off your credit card in full? Here are some of the key differences between paying off credit cards in full compared to making payments over time:

Paying a Credit Card in Full

Paying a Credit Card Over Time

Might need to spend less or earn more to speed up payments Can make payments based on current income and budget
Can save money on interest charges Costs more in interest payments
Frees up money sooner for other financial goals Continue juggling debt payoff with other financial goals for longer
Can lower credit utilization, potentially improving your credit score Won’t make as much of an impact in lowering credit utilization

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

Reasons to Always Pay Off Your Credit Card in Full

When it comes to paying off your credit card in full, there are a handful of reasons why it could be a good idea:

•   Helps with your credit score: As we talked about, paying off your card balance means keeping a lower credit utilization, which can help keep you maintain a solid score.

•   Frees up money for other goals: By paying off your credit card bill sooner than later, you’ll free up that money you were putting toward debt payments. In turn, you’ll have “extra” cash to put toward savings, retirement, and your short-term and long-term goals.

•   Allows you to save on interest: The longer you stretch out your payments, the more you’ll end up paying in interest. By paying off your credit card in full each statement cycle, you won’t owe interest, given how credit card payments work.

Reasons to Pay Down Your Credit Card Over Time

While it may be ideal to pay off your credit card all at once, credit card debt is hard to pay off — especially when you’re spinning a lot of plates money-wise. Let’s take a look at why you might opt to pay down your credit card over time instead:

•   Allows for a more manageable debt payment schedule: Paying down your credit card over time won’t put pressure on you to cut back on your living expenses, or find ways you earn more so you can pay off your credit card balance more quickly. Depending on your situation, gradually making payments might feel like the more reasonable route.

•   Frees up money now: By not focusing on aggressively paying off your credit cards, you can potentially work on other money goals, such as saving for retirement or creating an emergency fund. Still, you’ll want to at the very least make your credit card minimum payment to avoid the consequences of credit card late payment.

Strategies for Paying Off Credit Card Debt

If the idea of paying off your credit card debt feels overwhelming, here are a few popular strategies to consider for crushing your debt.

Debt Avalanche Method

With the debt avalanche method, you focus on paying off the card with the highest interest rate first. Meanwhile, you’ll continue making the minimum payments on all of your other accounts.

Once your account with the highest interest rate is paid off, you’ll move on to focusing on the account with the next highest rate, continuing to make minimum payments on the others. You’ll continue this cycle until all of your debt is paid off.

The major benefit of this method is that you’ll save on interest payments.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Snowball Method

In this strategy, you make the minimum payments on all your cards by the credit card payment due date. Then, you put any remaining funds toward paying off the card with the lowest balance. Once that’s paid off, you move on to the card with the next lowest balance.

The main advantage of the snowball method is that it keeps you motivated to continue to pay off your debt. That’s because it feels good to get a card paid off, which is easier to do with a card that has a lower balance.

Debt Consolidation

With debt consolidation, you take out a new loan that you then use to pay off all of your outstanding debts. This effectively rolls all of your credit card payments into a single fixed payment each month.

In turn, debt consolidation can simplify your payments, and potentially lower your payments. However, depending on the new payment schedule and terms, you might end up paying more in interest over the course of the loan. Also keep in mind that you’ll generally need a decent credit score to qualify for debt consolidation.

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

When Carrying a Balance Hurts Your Credit Score

Carrying a balance on your credit card hurts your score if it pushes your credit utilization too high. You’ll want to keep your credit utilization under 30% to avoid adverse effects.

Keeping a low balance, which decreases your credit utilization, can help your credit score. Besides paying off your cards, other ways to lower your credit utilization are to open a new credit card or request a credit limit increase. Both of these actions will increase your overall credit limit, thus potentially improving your credit utilization rate.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card

The Takeaway

While paying a credit card in full can help with your credit utilization, which also can improve your score, it’s not always realistic. You’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of both paying off credit cards in full and making payments over time to see which one is right for your current situation.

While making credit card payments is one way to lower your credit utilization, another option is opening a new credit card.

If you’re looking for a new credit card, you might apply for a credit card with SoFi.

FAQ

Is it better to pay off your credit card or carry a balance?

While paying off your credit card in full can help with your credit utilization ratio and save you on interest, spreading out your payments over time might make debt payoff more manageable. Which approach is best depends on your financial situation and preferences.

Does completely paying off a credit card raise your credit score?

Paying off a credit card can lower your credit utilization, which can positively affect your credit score.

Why did my credit score go down when I paid off my credit card?

Paying off your credit card doesn’t usually bring down your credit score. However, your credit score may drop if you closed your account after paying it off, as that can impact your credit mix or the average age of your accounts. It could also decrease your available credit, which can drive up your credit utilization.

Do credit card companies like it when you pay in full?

Paying in full shows creditors that you’re a responsible cardholder and that you have the financial means to pay off what you owe. It can also help to improve your credit score, which credit card companies look upon favorably.


Photo credit: iStock/Foxyburrow



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 .


SOCC0722003

Read more
Guide to Paying for Dental Care With a Credit Card

Guide to Paying for Dental Care With a Credit Card

Good dental health is essential to your overall well-being, but the cost of dental work — even after dental insurance — can make it challenging to pay upfront. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the average cost of a porcelain or ceramic crown is $1,213, while the cost of a root canal can range as high as $1,539 for a single session.

Securing a dental credit card is one way to cover these costs in smaller, more manageable installment payments. Although a credit card for dental work can serve as a useful financing tool, it’s also important to be mindful of the caveats of using credit for dental care.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

What Is a Dental Credit Card?

A dental credit card is a medical credit card that’s specifically for your out-of-pocket dental health care costs. These cards are typically offered in dental offices that accept the particular medical card it advertises as a form of payment.

Like a basic credit card, a dental credit card requires patients to undergo a credit check for qualification. The card’s use is limited to dental offices within the card issuer’s network for the purpose of financing your dental bills.

Dental care credit cards typically have high interest rates, even if they offer a temporary deferred interest period.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

How Do Dental Credit Cards Work?

Your dental provider’s office might mention a dental credit card as a payment option if you’re unable to cover the expense in one lump sum. The office facilitates the process of completing your application for credit approval, but it is not financing the cost directly. In other words, your dental office isn’t the lender.

Instead, credit for dental care is provided by a third-party credit card issuer. Similar to how a conventional credit card works, your application is reviewed by the issuer’s underwriting team, and your credit history and score are evaluated.

If you’re approved, the card issuer will send you a physical credit card that you can use for services at an in-network health care office up to your approved credit card limit. Your dental provider is paid in full by the card issuer, and you’ll repay the issuer through monthly payments, plus interest if you carry a balance.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Deferred Interest Periods on Dental Credit Cards

Some credit cards for dental work offer zero interest charges for a limited period, also called deferred interest. This option can be advantageous if you’re confident that you can successfully repay the full balance before the deferment period ends.

However, if there’s a remaining balance after the deferment period ends, interest charges that accrued throughout the deferment period are added to the principal balance that’s due. Additionally, the new higher balance continues to accrue interest charges at the dental credit card’s APR.

Because of this, use medical credit cards for dental work cautiously, as it’s a high-interest financing option that can lead to higher medical debt if you’re unable to repay your dental expenses quickly.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

Choosing a Dental Credit Card

When applying for a credit card specifically for dental care expenses, make sure you ask about the card’s features, terms, annual percentage rate (APR), and how it calculates interest during and after any deferment period.

If you’re approved, ensure that your dental office provides you with a copy of your dental credit card’s disclosure agreement. Also pay attention to the agreed-upon amount for any dental services you receive so you can verify that the card was charged for the correct amount.

You’ll want to note the deferment dates for your card, if any, and the interest rate you’re offered. That way, you can make enough monthly payments to repay your balance in full before interest kicks in.

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

Paying for Dental Care If You Have Bad Credit

Getting approved for a dental care credit card might be challenging if you have bad credit. If you’re in a difficult position and need help paying for expensive dental work now, here are some options to explore:

•   Inquire about a low-fee payment plan. Even if your dental provider doesn’t typically offer payment plans, it’s worth asking. This will likely be a better option than resorting to a secured credit card for payment, for instance, as these tend to have higher interest rates than unsecured credit cards.

•   Shop around with other dental providers. Prices vary across dental offices, so compare costs across a handful of affordable sources. You might consider a non-profit dental clinic or a dentistry school.

•   Seek help from a family member. Ask a relative if they’re willing to offer a low-interest loan for your dental care.

•   Explore local government programs. Some state and local governments offer low-cost dental care programs to residents.

Alternatives to Dental Credit Cards

If a dental credit card isn’t an option for you, there are a handful of other financing options to cover dental work, such as the cost of a root canal.

Credit Cards With 0% Interest Rates

Other types of credit cards, like a 0% APR card, are a good alternative to dental care credit cards. They offer a promotional period — sometimes from six months to 18 months — during which you don’t incur interest charges.

This kind of card may differ from deferred interest programs. With some promotional APR cards, interest only starts accruing on your outstanding balance after the promotional period ends. Still, the credit card rule applies to try to pay off your balance in full before the promotional period ends to avoid paying interest.

Payment Plans Through Your Provider

Some medical providers offer a payment plan at no additional cost or at a small installment fee. In this situation, you’re arranging low installment payments directly through your dental office until you’ve repaid your balance in full.

Not all dental offices offer this type of payment plan. But if yours does, it can work with you to create a custom monthly payment amount and due date that’s manageable for your finances.

Personal Loans

Compared to a dental credit card, personal loans might offer lower interest rates for qualified borrowers. A low-interest personal loan achieves the same result as a credit card for dental work in that you can chip away at your outstanding balance in small increments, plus interest.

The main difference is that you’ll receive a lump-sum loan disbursement from your lender that can be used to pay your dental office upfront.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Help From Relatives

Seeking financial assistance from a close relative can help you avoid dental care debt. When asking for help, clarify whether the funds are a gift or need to be repaid.

If it’s the latter, discuss the repayment window and additional interest (if any). Also talk about expectations if you’re suddenly unable to make payments due to an injury or job loss, for instance.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card

The Takeaway

Getting a credit card for dental work can be useful if you’re faced with an urgent oral treatment or procedure and need fast financing. However, the incredibly high interest rates of credit cards for dental work compared to other financing options can make it a financially risky option.

If you believe a credit card is the best way to pay for dental care, see if a rewards credit card — like the cash-back rewards credit card from SoFi — makes sense for you.

FAQ

What credit score do I need to get a dental credit card?

Credit score requirements vary by credit card issuer, but generally, you’ll need at least fair credit. However, a higher score can help you qualify for more competitive interest rates.

Is a dental care credit card hard to get?

Dental care credit cards are commonly offered online or at your provider’s dental office, so applying for a card is typically straightforward. However, being approved for a dental credit card involves many factors, like your credit history, income, debt-to-income ratio, and other factors.

Should I pay for dental care with a credit card?

If you don’t have the cash flow to pay for your dental costs upfront, using a dental credit card helps you cover costs in small, monthly payments. That being said, doing so might cause you to incur high interest charges, so evaluate your financial situation and proceed with caution.

Can I get a dental loan with bad credit?

Dental loans for patients with bad credit are available, though they might come with high interest rates, low limits, or other restrictive factors.


Photo credit: iStock/zadveri



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.


SOCC0722015

Read more
Closing a Credit Card With a Balance: What to Know

Closing a Credit Card With a Balance: What to Know

Closing a credit card with a balance remaining is possible to do. However, keep in mind that even if your credit card account is closed, you’ll still have to pay off the remaining balance. Additionally, you’ll need to cover interest that’s accrued as well as any fees, and you could face other consequences, including losing out on rewards and seeing potential impacts to your credit score.

Still, there are instances when closing a credit card can be the right move. If you’re thinking about closing a credit card account with an outstanding balance, you’ll want to weigh these considerations — and also ensure you have a plan for paying off your remaining balance.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

What Happens If You Close a Credit Card Account With a Balance?

Once you’ve closed a credit card account with a balance, you’ll no longer be able to use that card to make purchases. Beyond that, here’s what else you can expect after your account closure.

Payment of Balance and Interest

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when a credit card is closed with balance is that you’re still liable for the credit card balance you’ve racked up. You’ll also owe any interest charges that have accrued on your outstanding balance.

As such, expect to continue receiving monthly statements from your credit card issuer detailing your balance, accrued interest, and minimum payment due. And until you’re absolutely positive your debt is paid off, keep on checking your credit card balance regularly.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

Loss of Promotional APR

If the card you closed offered a promotional interest rate, this offer will likely come to an end. If you’ve been carrying a balance on a credit card, your balance could start to accrue interest. Plus, you may have to pay the standard APR on the remaining balance rather than the lower promotional rate.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card

Loss of Rewards

Before you move forward with canceling a credit card that offers rewards like points or airline miles, make sure you’ve redeemed any rewards you’ve earned. That’s because you may forfeit those rewards if you close your account.

Policies on this can vary from issuer to issuer though, so just make sure to check with your credit card company to be safe rather than sorry.

How Closing Credit Cards With Balances Can Impact Your Credit

There are a number of ways that closing credit card accounts with a balance can adversely affect your credit score given how credit cards work. Closed accounts in good standing will remain on your credit report for 10 years, whereas those with derogatory marks may fall off after seven years.

For starters, closing your account could drive up your credit utilization ratio, one of the factors that goes into calculating your score. This ratio is determined by dividing your total credit balances by the total of all of your credit limits. Losing the available credit on your closed account can drive up this ratio.

Further, closing your account can impact your credit mix, as you’ll have one fewer line of credit in the mix. It also could decrease your length of credit history if the card you closed was an old one.

That being said, the impacts can vary depending on your credit profile and the credit scoring model that’s being used. If, after closing your account, you pay off your account balance in a timely manner and uphold good credit behavior across other accounts, your score can likely bounce back.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Is Keeping the Credit Card Account Open a Better Option?

In some scenarios, it may make sense to keep your credit card active, even if you don’t plan on spending on the card. Here’s when opting against closing your credit card account might be the right move:

•   When you can switch credit cards: If your card carrier allows it, you might be able to switch to a different credit card it offers rather than closing out your account entirely. This might make sense if you’re worried about your card’s annual fee, for instance. You’ll still owe any outstanding debt on the old credit card, which will get moved over to the new card (the same goes if you happen to have a negative balance on a credit card).

•   When you have unused credit card rewards: With a rewards credit card, closing the account may jeopardize the use of earned rewards. Avoid that scenario by keeping the credit card active until you’ve used up all the rewards earned on your current credit card, or at least until you’ve transferred them to a new credit card, if that’s an option.

•   When you don’t use the credit card: Even if you don’t use your credit card, or use it sparingly, keeping the card open can help your credit score. This is because creditors and lenders usually look more favorably on credit card users who don’t rack up significant credit card debt, which is why maintaining a low credit utilization ratio is one of the key credit card rules to follow.

That being said, there are certainly some scenarios when it can make sense to say goodbye to your credit card account. Here’s when to cancel your credit card, or at least consider it:

•   You want to avoid the temptation to spend.

•   You want to stop paying your card’s annual fee.

•   The card’s interest rate is rising.

•   You’d like to have fewer credit card accounts to manage.

Guide to Paying Off a Credit Card Balance

No matter what you do with your credit card account, you’re going to have to pay down your credit card debt. That scenario grows more important with a closed card account, which can easily be forgotten — along with the debt you owe.

To avoid making that mistake, here are some options you can explore to pay off your closed credit account with a balance as soon as possible.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Debt Consolidation Loans

A personal loan at a decent interest rate can make it easier to curb and eliminate your card debt. Once the funds from the loan hit your bank account, you can use the cash to pay off all your credit card debts. Then, you’ll only have to keep track of paying off that one loan with fixed monthly payments, making it easier to manage.

Keep in mind that you’ll generally need good credit to secure a personal loan with competitive terms though.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Balance Transfer Credit Cards

A balance transfer card with a 0% introductory interest rate can buy you some time when paying down debt. You can transfer your existing debt to the new card, allowing you to pay down credit card debt at a lower interest rate, without racking up any additional interest payments during the promotional period.

Just make sure to pay off the entire balance before the card’s introductory interest rate period ends, and the interest rate rises significantly. Otherwise, you may be right back where you started — with high credit card debt and a high interest rate. Also note that a ​​ balance transfer fee will likely apply.

Debt Avalanche or Snowball

For credit card debt repayment, consider the debt avalanche or snowball approach.

With the avalanche debt repayment method, you prioritize paying off your credit card with the highest interest rate first. Meanwhile, you’ll maintain minimum payments on all of your other debts. Once your highest-rate debt is paid off, you’ll roll those funds over to tackle your balance with the next highest interest rate.

The snowball method, on the other hand, is all about building up momentum toward debt payoff. Here, you pay as much as possible each month toward your credit card with the lowest outstanding balance, while making minimum payments on all of your other outstanding debts. When the smallest debt is paid off completely, repeat the process with the next smallest balance.

Debt Management Plan

If you’re still having trouble paying down your credit card either before or after you close the account, that could be a red flag signaling that you need help. In this case, consider reaching out to an accredited debt management counselor who can set you on the right path to credit debt insolvency.

In addition to helping you create a debt management plan, a credit counselor can help by negotiating a better deal on interest rates and lower monthly payments. That could result in paying down your credit card debt more quickly, which not only saves you money, but also helps protect your credit score.

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

The Takeaway

If you decide to close your credit card account with a balance, it’s critical to do so in a way where your debt obligations are covered and your credit score is well-protected. The key to doing the job right is to work with your card company, keep a close eye on outstanding balances and payment deadlines, and work aggressively to pay your card debt down as quickly as possible.

Since closing a credit card can have consequences, it’s especially important to consider a credit card carefully before you apply.

FAQ

Can you close a credit card with a balance?

Closing a credit card with a balance is possible. However, you’ll still be responsible for the outstanding balance on the card, as well as any interest charges and fees.

Does it hurt your credit to close a credit card with a balance?

Closing your credit card with a balance remaining has the potential to impact your credit score. However, the exact implications for your score can vary depending on your overall credit profile and which credit scoring model is being used.

Is it better to close a credit card or leave it open with a zero balance?

That depends on your personal situation. Closing a card for good may impact your credit score, but you also won’t be able to use the card again and risk racking up unwanted debt in the process.

What happens if you close a credit card with a negative balance?

If you close a credit card with a negative balance, that means the card issuer owes you money instead of vice versa. In this situation, the card issuer will typically refund you that money before closing out the account.

How do I close a credit card without hurting my credit score?

You can mitigate the impacts of closing your account by paying off the balance on that account and all other credit card accounts you have. If you have $0 balances, then closing your account and losing that available credit won’t affect your credit utilization rate.


Photo credit: iStock/staticnak1983



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 .


SOCC0722008

Read more
Everything You Need to Know About Credit Card Holds

Everything You Need to Know About Credit Card Holds

If you’re someone who swipes your credit card for pretty much anything and everything, you know just how disruptive it can feel when a hold has been placed on your card. This could happen at any time — when you fill up your tank at the gas station, or when you pay for hotel reservations during a weekend getaway — and it can feel like the cash flow equivalent of the water getting shut off in your home.

The good news is that credit card holds are only temporary. And chances are, you’ll be able to tap into your credit card in no time. Let’s shine a light on what a credit card hold is, the different types of credit card authorization holds, and how long a credit card company can hold your payment.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

What Is a Credit Card Hold?

A credit card hold is a two-part scenario during which the merchant and credit card issuer communicate to one another electronically. On one end, a merchant checks with your card issuer ahead of time if you’re good for a specific, preset amount. On the other end, the card issuer locks in that amount on your credit card balance. That way, the merchant ensures it is paid for the purchase.

In turn, due to how credit cards work, you won’t have access to that amount that’s set aside until either the transaction or the issue gets resolved and the hold is released.

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

Types of Credit Cards Holds

Let’s take a closer look at the two main types of credit card holds: authorization holds and administrative holds.

Credit Card Authorization Hold

A credit card authorization hold is usually the more complex of the two types of holds. They’re also known as “pre-authorizations,” and you can think of them as a security deposit.

A credit card authorization usually happens when you’re using a credit card to make a larger purchase, or when the final amount of the transaction is unknown. Merchants in industries such as car rental companies, gas stations, and hotels commonly use authorization holds. Other industries where a card isn’t present may also make a request.

How Does An Authorization Credit Card Hold Work?

Here’s how it works: When an authorization hold on a credit card is requested, the card issuer makes a portion of your credit card balance unavailable until the transaction is finalized.

For example: Let’s say you book a hotel room and the grand total is $1,000. The hotel asks the card issuer for a hold. In that case, the issuer will make that $1,000 of your credit limit unavailable. Once the transaction goes through, the authorization hold will be lifted.

Depending on the situation, there might be two authorization holds placed on your credit card. For instance, if you used your credit card to pay for a hotel stay, the first hold would be for accommodations. The second might be for the tab at the mini-bar in your room or for the restaurant bill.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

How Long Does an Authorization Credit Card Hold Last?

An authorization credit card hold can typically last anywhere from one to 30 days. Some holds might be released the same day, while others last for a few days after the transaction is settled. For instance, a hotel hold is usually released a few days after you checkout, while a hold placed by a gas station might be lifted the day you spend money at the pump.

If the transaction doesn’t settle before a hold reaches its expiration, the hold will fall off, and the amount that was held will become available again.

Credit Card Administrative Hold

The other main type of credit card holds are administrative holds. Administrative holds can be broken down into two types:

•   Over-the-credit-limit administrative hold: As the name implies, if you go over your credit card limit, an administrative hold will be placed. And yes, you’ll be barred from using your card until you pay down your card so it falls below the credit limit. This is why it’s important to follow the credit card rule of spending within your limit.

•   Late-payment administrative hold: If you’re behind on your credit card payment, your credit card issuer may place a late-payment administrative hold on your card. In this case, one of two things can happen. If you have a solid credit history, the card issuer might only report the late payment to the credit bureaus, and allow you to continue using your card. But if you keep making late payments or your credit is less-than-stellar, a late-payment hold might be placed until you make several months of on-time credit card payments.

When to Use an Authorization Hold

As a cardholder, an authorization hold isn’t really something you have control over. That’s because the merchant is the party that reaches out to the credit card issuer and requests a hold. This is done as a form of security to ensure the merchant gets paid for a purchase.

That being said, there are things you can do to prevent an authorization hold from happening in the first place. (We’ll get into that in just a little bit.)

When Not to Use an Authorization Hold

It’s up to the merchant whether or not to use an authorization hold. This might be requested if there’s a big question mark hovering over the final amount of the transaction.

Such holds are also requested when it’s worthwhile for a merchant to request a hold, given what a credit card is and how they work. This could include if the purchase is for a larger amount, or if the merchant works in an industry where there’s a high rate of non-payment for purchases.

Tips to Avoid Credit Card Holds

You can avoid credit card holds by doing the following:

•   Use a card in-store. To avoid authorization holds, go inside the store and pay at the counter instead of paying online or at the pump.

•   Check the policy beforehand. If you’re concerned about a hold being placed on your account, reach out to the hotel or car rental company ahead of time. See what their authorization hold policy is, and what the typical amount and length of the hold is.

•   Check your credit card balance. If you plan on booking a hotel room or car rental, do a quick check of your credit card balance and your card limit. If you’ve already used a lot of your current balance and might go past your limit, consider using another card, or looking for less-expensive options so you can stay within your limit.

•   Pay your card balance. To keep your credit card limits low, aim to pay off your credit card balance. To stay out of late-payment territory and avoid late-payment holds, always make the credit card minimum payment.

Steps for Removing an Authorization Hold

While the merchant can release an authorization hold at any time, as the card holder you’ll need to jump through a few additional hoops to do so. Here’s what you need to do to lift an authorization hold:

•   Request that the hold get lifted right away. As some holds linger a few days after the bill is paid, ask the merchant if the hold can get released as soon as the bill is paid and the transaction settled.

•   Ask the credit card issuer if the hold can be removed. You can also reach out directly to the card issuer to see if a hold can be lifted. In this case, the issuer would contact the merchant and make the ask on your behalf.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card

The Takeaway

A credit card hold can be a nuisance, but you can also avoid one by taking a few steps. This includes checking your available balance beforehand, and always making sure to make the minimum payments. And if a hold is lingering for longer than you’d like, you can always request that the hold is removed.

If you’re in the market for a credit card, consider the SoFi Credit Card.

FAQ

How do I remove a credit card hold?

You can remove a credit card hold by reaching out directly to the credit card company or to the merchant.

How long does a pending authorization hold take?

It depends. If it’s an authorization hold from a gas station, the hold can get lifted the same day. If it’s a hold from a hotel or car rental, where the amount you’ll be putting on the card is unknown, it can take several days after you’ve settled the final bill for the hold to be lifted.

What can go wrong with an authorization hold?

There’s a chance that a hold can remain on your card after it’s been canceled or settled. In that case, the funds you have available through your line of credit will be limited. If this happens, you should reach out to the credit card issuer to have the hold released.

Can authorization holds prevent chargebacks?

A benefit of authorization holds is that they can prevent chargebacks for the merchant. (If you’re unfamiliar, a chargeback is when the consumer disputes a charge and requests a refund, in which case the credit card company would withhold the funds from the retailer until the dispute is resolved.) Placing a hold would allow the merchant to avoid this scenario because they can delay processing the transaction.


Photo credit: iStock/Alesmunt



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.


SOCC0722020

Read more
Getting a Credit Card With No Job: What to Know

Getting a Credit Card With No Job: What to Know

If you’re currently without a job — either temporarily or permanently — you may be wondering: ‘Do you need a job to get a credit card?’ While the answer will depend on your unique financial situation, know that it is possible to get a credit card with no job.

But even if you can get a credit card with no job, there are potential risks in borrowing money without a steady source of income. Here’s how you can get a credit card with no job, as well as the pros and cons to consider before you do.

Can You Get a Credit Card With No Job?

If you don’t have a full-time or regular job, you may still be able to get approved for a credit card. However, you may need to show other means of being able to pay your credit card obligations due to how credit cards work.

When applying for a credit card, credit card issuers are required to consider your ability to repay your debts when considering whether to approve your application. To determine whether you meet this credit card requirement, they’ll typically look at your income from a job or other sources. If you’re attempting to get a credit card with no job, this could include unemployment benefits, self-employment income, shared household income or retirement income.

What Does the Credit Card Act of 2009 Say?

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (also known as the Credit CARD Act) is the federal law that governs many interactions between credit card issuers and applicants. One thing that the Credit Card Act of 2009 did was prevent credit card companies from issuing new cards to applicants under 21 years of age unless they have an adult cosigner or have proof of income. This makes it more difficult for young adults without a job to get their own credit card.

Guide to Listing Income on Your Credit Card Application

One of the biggest credit card rules is that you should always be completely truthful on your credit card application. If you don’t have a job or income, you should state that rather than inflating or lying about your total income.

If your issuer finds out that your application was not completely accurate, they may close your account. In turn, this could damage your credit.

Types of Income That You Can Report on a Credit Card Application

Now that you know the answer to the question, ‘can you apply for a credit card without a job?’, you’ll need to know how to fill out your application. You can use a variety of different types of income on your credit card application. Here are a few of the most common:

•   Employment income: Money you earn from employment is the most common source of income on credit card applications. This can include money from a seasonal or irregular job.

•   Self-employment income: If you have your own business, you can also include that on a credit card application. This can include money from contract or freelance work.

•   Unemployment benefits: Another potential source of credit card application income is unemployment benefits. If you’re temporarily out of work and receiving unemployment insurance benefits, you can include that on a credit card application.

•   Shared household income: The Credit CARD Act of 2009 states that you can include as income any money that you would reasonably expect to have access to. This could include a spouse’s income or an allowance provided by a family member.

•   Retirement income: Retirement benefits like a pension or Social Security are also considered an acceptable form of income for credit card applications. This also includes distributions from a retirement account.

Guide to Getting a Credit Card With No Job

If you don’t have a job and your other sources of income aren’t enough to get a standard credit card, then you do have a few other options you can consider.

Opt for a Secured Card

One option to consider is applying for a secured credit card. With a secured credit card, you generally make a refundable initial deposit. This deposit then serves as your total credit line. It is generally easier to get approved for secured credit cards than traditional, or unsecured, credit cards.

Become an Authorized User

Another possibility is to become an authorized user on a credit card. When you’re an authorized user on someone else’s account, only the primary account holder is legally and financially responsible for all purchases on the account. And if the primary account holder uses the card responsibly, it can help raise your credit score, even if you’re only an authorized user.

Consider a Cosigner

If you have a trusted friend or family member, you might also look at getting a credit card cosigner. Some credit card companies may not approve you for a new credit card on your own, but they may approve you if you have someone who will co-sign your application.

Keep in mind that a cosigner will be legally and financially on the hook for your purchases, so it may be difficult to find someone willing to cosign for you.

Look Into a Student Credit Card

Many card issuers offer a type of credit card marketed toward students. If you’re a student with a limited credit history and no income, you may stand a better chance of getting approved for a student credit card than a traditional credit card. Plus, these cards may have low fees and offer rewards tailored to students’ typical spending habits.

Pros and Cons of Getting a Credit Card When Unemployed

It is possible to get a credit card if you’re unemployed since you can list unemployment benefits, among other income sources, in your application. While there are certainly upsides to securing a credit card, you should carefully consider the downsides as well before applying for a credit card without a job.

Pros

Cons

Responsibly using a credit card can help improve your credit score It may be difficult to get approved
Having a credit card makes it easier to make some types of purchases If you are approved, you may not be approved for a very high credit limit
You may earn rewards and/or cash back with your credit card purchases You may have trouble repaying your purchases without a steady source of income

Tips for Using a Credit Card Without a Job

While the answer to whether you have to have a job to get a credit card is technically no, there are some caveats attached to swiping your card without a steady income. Still, just because you don’t have a job doesn’t mean you can’t build your credit in your meantime. Here are some tips to keep in mind to use your credit card wisely:

•   Shop around for a card with a competitive rate: Especially if your financial situation has some uncertainty, you may end up carrying a balance at some points. To avoid paying any more than you need to in interest, make sure to take your time to shop around for the card that offers you the lowest rate.

•   Don’t spend more than you can afford to pay back: Before you use your credit card for any purchases, make sure that you’ll have the money to pay your bill off at the end of the month. If you won’t, you may need to reevaluate your overall spending habits to make sure you don’t fall into debt.

•   Pay each month in full to save on interest: One of the best things that you can do for your overall financial health is to reliably pay your bills in full, each and every month. If you do this, you won’t end up paying interest on your purchases.

•   Set alerts so you don’t miss your monthly payments: If you’re already tight on funds because you’re without a job, the last thing you want to deal with is late fees. Plus, aside from this cost, your credit score will also suffer. To make sure you remember to make payments on-time, consider setting an alert to remind yourself, or even autopay.

The Takeaway

It is possible to get a credit card with no job, but it may not be easy. And many premium or luxury credit cards may not be available to you. Make sure to account for all sources of income on your credit card application. Remember that in addition to income from employment, you can consider other forms of income like self-employment, retirement, or household income. Alternatively, you can consider options like a secured card, a student card or becoming an authorized user on someone else’s account.

If you do have good credit and a reliable source of income, you might consider the SoFi credit card.

FAQ

Can you get a credit card if you have no income?

Yes, it is possible to get a credit card if you have no income, but it may not be easy. Credit card issuers are required to consider your ability to pay your bills before approving you for a card. Keep in mind that you can use more than just money from employment as income. You can also use retirement, self-employment, or shared household income.

Do credit card companies know if you are unemployed?

Credit card companies do not directly know if you are unemployed, but your employment status is usually asked as a question on most credit card applications. However, if you already have a credit card account and then later become unemployed, that information is not generally shared directly with your credit card company.

Can you get a credit card when you’re on unemployment benefits?

Yes, it is possible to get a credit card if you’re on unemployment benefits. Credit card companies are legally required to consider your ability to pay all of your bills when deciding whether to approve you for a card. But this consideration can include income from many sources, not just income from employment.

What is the minimum income required to get a credit card?

There is not a set minimum income credit card requirement. Instead, different credit card issuers will consider your overall financial situation (including income) when deciding whether to approve you for one of their cards. While it is possible to get a credit card with no or low income, you may not be able to get approved for all credit cards.

Does unemployment affect credit?

If you lose your job and start receiving unemployment benefits, it won’t directly affect any credit cards that you already have. However, if your job loss starts to impact your ability to make your payments on-time, your credit card issuer may charge fees and/or raise your interest rate.


Photo credit: iStock/damircudic



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 .


SOCC0722021

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender