So I have never owned a credit card in my life, and am trying to get ideas as to how they work. Sorry if this is too simple a question...

Lets say I have a credit card, and in one month I charge $1000 to it. At the end of the month, if I want to pay off the balance, am I paying $1000, or is there interest involved? Does it differ depending on the card?

  • 24
    There are no too simple questions when dealing with banks and how they affect your money.
    – MrChrister
    Commented Oct 19, 2010 at 19:14

5 Answers 5


In general, it works like this. For ease of explanation, assume that the billing cycle is aligned on month boundaries, and have 10 days from the time you get the bill to when you have to pay. These numbers will vary by credit card, but the concept is the same.

  1. Between Jan. 1 and Jan 31, you charge $1000
  2. On Jan 31, the January billing cycle ends
  3. You charge an additional $500 on Feb 5, and nothing more for the rest of the month
  4. On Feb. 10, you receive a bill for January, for $1000, due on Feb. 20
  5. On Feb. 20, you pay your bill of $1000.
  6. On Feb. 28, the February billing cycle ends
  7. On March 10, you receive a bill for $500, due on March 20.

There would be no interest charged in this scenario. As long as you pay the total amount of each bill by the due date, there is no interest charge. Note that if you continuously charge on your card, it may never have a zero balance, even though you are paying your bill on time.

  • 3
    +1 Yup. Often a billing cycle is several days less than a full month, but the bottom line is to pay the bill in full when it comes and you should be fine.
    – MrChrister
    Commented Oct 19, 2010 at 19:16
  • 2
    Though I cannot say for all credit cards, Visa and Master Card usually provide a due date that is 21 days (i.e. 3 weeks) after the end of the billing cycle. And one other important point that I think applies to all credit cards: if you do not pay the full amount stated on your bill, you will be charged interest on the full amount, even if you covered most of the bill.
    – Krsna
    Commented Oct 20, 2010 at 4:55
  • Krsna: You're correct. The numbers I used were just to make the example easy to understand. I clarified that point.
    – KeithB
    Commented Oct 20, 2010 at 14:58
  • 3
    Note that this assumes you only charge purchases on the card. If you draw out cash on the card then it will start acruing interest immediately (and there may also be fees) Commented May 25, 2016 at 18:18

That will depend on the terms of the credit card agreement, but I have never seen a credit card agreement where you would owe interest in the scenario you described. As long as you pay the balance in full by the due date each month you shouldn't be charged any interest.


For most cards, If the previous month you paid, by the due date, the total balance as of the billing date, then no interest is charged on purchases made that month if you pay the balance by the due date. (It must be the previous two months for some cards). See the answer by KeithB for an example of paying the total amount. The period for which you do not accrue interest is known as a grace period.

If you did not pay your balance in full by the end of the previous month, then interest starts accruing right away on new purchases. Cash advances and balance transfers normally start accruing interest right away regardless of whether your balance was paid in full (they don't have a merchant to charge a fee to, so they have to get paid from somewhere.)

The details vary from card to card, so you should read the terms of your card, and/or contact customer service to be certain.

  • You pay a yearly fee for having the card (although you could have a free card).
  • Anybody that fails to pay the bill will pay a hefty interest rate.
  • The shopkeepers will pay between 1,5% and 4% (I think) to the credit card company.

You should be able to get a free card, as the companies make most (I guess) of their money with the high interest rates, and the commissions.

  • 1
    Credit card system commissions of 1-4% are paid by the retailer. Larger chains can negotiate lower rates while small retailers lose a disproportionate part of their revenue in these fees. If you want to support a local shop, pay cash so they can keep more of it.
    – SpecKK
    Commented Oct 20, 2010 at 6:17
  • SpecKK: Cash isn't necessarily cheaper than a credit card. See this answer for reasons why: money.stackexchange.com/questions/2688/…
    – KeithB
    Commented Oct 20, 2010 at 15:03

I don't agree with most of these answers. If my statement on Feb 28th says I owe $110.00 USD today, and it is due by March 10. and I pay that $110 before March 10th, when I get my card, the amount due will be the interest on the $110 charged from March 1 to March 10th. This is the way a big CCard Company - well the biggest - does their interest, and why I went ballistic when I figure it out. And that is why my statement this month says $15.86 and does not show $00.00. So I have to pay off my amount due, plus an additional 10% - else I will never pay off my credit card - it will go on for ever, and ever......

  • 5
    You only get in trouble this way if you are carrying a balance and accruing interest charges. So pay extra and get to where you are no longer being charged interest. After that, as long as you pay your bill in full each month, the card will work as it is described in the other answers.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 19:06
  • Are you in a country where cards are actually permitted to charge interest from the posting date? Note, the question was tagged US. Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 15:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .