Complete Idiot’s Guide to Managing Your Money. Don’t be offended by the title. This plainly written book shows that anybody can learn to manage their money effectively, and is full of consumer tips, advice on mortgages, debt, mutual funds, auto loans, bank fees, credit cards, and other money-related matters. The book, written by expert financial columnist Robert K. Heady and financial writer Christine Heady, has already gone through four editions and sold millions of copies.
The double billing cycle uses the average daily balance of the current and previous billing cycles. This is the most expensive way finance charges are calculated and is unfair to cardholders because it charges interest on balances that have already been paid. Fortunately for credit cardholders, the double billing cycle method of calculating finance charges was outlawed with the passing of the Credit CARD Act of 2009.
A man stresses about finances. The adjusted balance method starts with the balance at the beginning of the billing cycle and subtracts any payments you made during the billing cycle. Purchases are not included in the balance. Out of all the ways to calculate finance charges, this method results in the lowest finance charge, but not very many credit card issuers use it. The average daily balance method uses the average of your balance during the billing cycle. Each day’s balance is added together and divided by the number of days in the billing cycle. New charges are sometimes excluded in the calculation of the average daily balance. This is the most common way finance charges are calculated.
If you take your time paying off your credit card balance, your credit card issuer will charge a fee for the convenience of taking your time rather than paying your balance right away. This fee is called a finance charge and is simply an interest fee charged on money you’ve borrowed. Finance charges usually apply to any balance carried beyond the grace period. You can generally avoid paying a finance charge by paying your entire balance before the grace period ends.
Here’s how it works. Your credit card has a grace period, which is typically between 21 and 25 days after your billing cycle ends. You can typically find the length of your grace period on the front or back of your billing statement. The grace period is your chance to pay your full credit card balance and dodge finance charges. Your statement may even include a disclosure that states the date you have to pay off your balance to avoid finance charges. Pay the full balance listed on your credit card statement to avoid seeing a finance charge on your next statement. If you pay just part of your balance, your next billing statement will have a finance charge calculated based on the unpaid balance and any new purchases you make.
Credit cards give you the ability to make purchases today and pay for them later. If it takes you longer than a month to pay off your balance you’ll pay a fee in the form of a finance charge. Paying finance charges increases the cost you pay for having a credit card, even moreso if you never fully pay off your balance. You can avoid finance charges on almost all credit cards, but it’s all about the timing and amount of your credit card payment.
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