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For many, unbalanced monthly bills are the norm. Whether most of your bills are weighted toward the end of the month or are all due during the first week, your budget can easily be thrown off.
Unbalanced bills can become even more problematic if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck. Saving ahead of time and anticipating your bills may be ideal, but doing so isn’t as easy as it sounds.
The good news is you may have some say in when some of your bills are due—specifically credit card bills. And by taking steps to change the due date on your credit cards, you can create a better balance in your budget and reduce your money stress in the process.
How your credit card billing cycle works
Simply knowing it’s possible to change your credit card’s due date is only half the battle. You also need to figure out when your ideal due date might be.
Before you can decide, you need to understand how your billing cycle works. Credit cards tend to offer billing cycles of 20 to 45 days, but they usually fall around 30 days. The catch is these cycles can begin and end any time of the month, which is why your due date could ultimately be the 1st, 13th or 29th, depending on your card.
Your credit card due date will occur after your billing cycle ends, and the time between your statement closing date and your due date is your grace period. Thanks to the Credit CARD Act of 2009, credit card issuers must give cardholders this 21-day period to pay their credit card bill once their monthly statement closes.
However, you should also note that you don’t always get a grace period. Not only do some credit cards not offer one, but you’ll give up your grace period on funds you take out when you use your credit card for a cash advance.
When you should pay your credit card bill
Scheduling your credit card bill largely depends on the timeline of your other bills. If most of your bills are due at the beginning of the month, it might make sense to move your credit card due dates to the end so you’ll have more spending money. On the other hand, if most of your bills are due in the middle of the month, a credit card due date near the beginning of the month may work better.
Ideally, you’ll want to aim for the time of the month when you have the most disposable income. That way, you’ll be in a better position to pay your bills and avoid both late fees and the potential for a penalty APR.
Sit down with your checkbook, bills and monthly budget for a quick analysis. Work out when you normally get paid, how much you normally take home and when most of your bills are due. Once you take this step, the best time to pay your credit card bill should become obvious.
How to change your due date
Fortunately, changing your due date should be easy, since all you have to do is call the customer service number on your credit card bill and ask.
Keep in mind that some credit card issuers will be more open and accommodating than others. American Express, Bank of America, Barclays, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover are likely to change your due date upon request, but they may follow a specific set of rules.
For example, you should only be able to change your due date if your account is currently in good standing. You also may not be able to change your due date until your account has been in existence for a few months.
Further, even though this might seem like a smart idea, you will also be out of luck if you try to change your due date after your bill payment is already late.
What if you can’t change your due date?
If your issuer denies your request for a due date change, consider shifting your payment habits anyway. Remember: The due date is a deadline. There’s nothing that prevents you from paying your statement balance before then. Your statement will arrive at least three weeks before your due date, so consider paying your bill immediately upon receiving the statement. That way, if your credit card due date is near other due dates, you give yourself more buffer time (and potentially another paycheck) in between bills.
You can also turn to the bills (like utilities or phone bills) that are conflicting with your credit card payment. You can request a different due date or change your payment habits to find a balance that works for you.
The bottom line
While you can’t always change the due dates on bills like rent, your mortgage or your car payment, credit card issuers tend to offer more flexibility. That’s why it always makes sense to call and inquire about a different due date that would work better for your budget.