5 Benefits of Paying More Than the Minimum On Your Credit Card

Contributing more than the minimum payment can eliminate debt faster, save money on interest charges and maintain a healthy credit score.
Profile photo of Virginia C. McGuire

Many, or all, of the products featured on this page are from our advertising partners who compensate us when you take certain actions on our website or click to take an action on their website. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

It’s the end of the month, and your credit card bill just hit your inbox or slid through the mail slot. Where do you look first? If you focus on the smallest number on there — the minimum payment — you’re off to a good start. Making your minimum payment on time is absolutely crucial to keeping your credit scores intact and avoiding late fees.

But there are also good reasons for paying more than the minimum whenever you can.

1. You'll incur less interest

The minimum payment on your credit card typically includes all the interest and fees that have accrued during the statement period, plus a small portion of the principal balance — often only 1% or 2%. The exact calculation varies by issuer, but with any card, if you pay only the minimum every month, you won't really reduce your outstanding debt that much. You'll just be rolling it over, month after month, racking up interest on the whole amount.

Every dollar you pay over the minimum reduces your actual debt, which reduces the amount of interest charged. So even if you can't pay off your balance in full, it's to your benefit to pay more than the minimum.

Ready for a new credit card?
Create a NerdWallet account for insight on your credit score and personalized recommendations for the right card for you.

2. You'll reduce your credit utilization ratio

Your credit utilization ratio — the amount you owe on your card compared to your credit limit — is an important component of your credit score. If your total credit card balance is more than 30% of your available credit, your score will likely drop. That will make it harder to get approved for credit in the future, and you’ll probably pay a higher interest rate on loans, such as mortgages and car loans. Because landlords also make decisions about prospective tenants based on credit history, you may also be unable to score a lease on the apartment you want.

But paying more than the minimum on your credit card bills helps you chip away at your overall balance, which improves your credit utilization and raises your score. Also, if you’re still using your cards for new purchases, paying more than the minimum is important because you're not letting the debt pile up. If possible, you should pay at least as much as you’ve charged in that particular month and as much as you can afford on top of that so your overall debt will continue to drop.

3. You'll avoid maxing out your card

Maxing out your card not only damages your credit, but also may damage your credibility.

As previously discussed, maxing out a credit card hurts your score because it drives up your credit utilization ratio. Having a maxed-out card also makes you look bad if you’re applying for another loan. It says you’re not handling your available credit carefully enough. So if you go to apply for other types of credit while one of your cards is maxed out, you should expect to have trouble getting it, even if your credit score is within an acceptable range.

4. You'll stay on your issuer's good side

The bank that issued your credit card did so because it considered you a good risk. Based on your credit history, it felt confident that you would pay back your debts. But maxing out a card is very damaging to your credit. If this has caused your score to drop substantially since your application, your issuer might decide to close your account.

Don’t worry about this too much — it is unlikely to close your account if you pay on time, use the card regularly and generally keep up your part of the agreement. But if you have slipped recently and made a late payment, it wouldn’t hurt to send a message to the issuer that you’re still a good customer. Paying more than the minimum amount due on your account demonstrates that you’re committed to reducing your debt.

5. You could activate your grace period

If you pay your credit card bill in full every month — meaning you pay the entire statement balance by the due date — the card's grace period kicks in. When a credit card grace period is active, you aren't charged interest on new purchases until after the next due date. See where this is going? If you always pay in full by the due date, you will never be charged interest, since you never carry a balance past that due date.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Is it possible to pay too much on a credit card? Yes, in the sense that you can pay more than your current balance. If that happens, you'll have a "negative balance," meaning the card issuer essentially owes you money. There are no penalties for overpaying a credit card. The amount you overpaid will be applied as a credit toward future purchases — or, if you let it sit long enough, will be refunded to you by your issuer.

The bottom line: With credit cards, setting priorities is key. First, always make your minimum payment on time. Then, pay more than that minimum. Ideally, you'll get to the point where you don’t need to carry a credit card balance at all. This will be good for both your credit score and your overall financial health.

Find the right credit card for you.

Whether you want to pay less interest or earn more rewards, the right card's out there. Just answer a few questions and we'll narrow the search for you.

Get Started
Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.