Different credit cards calculate finance charges in different ways. To find out how your creditor calculates your charge, look on the back of a recent billing statement. You should find an explanation there. If you know how your credit card issuer calculates your finance charge, you can estimate your own finance charge and even find ways to minimize the finance charge you pay. Regardless of how your credit card issuer calculates your finance charges, you can avoid paying interest on your balance by paying in full each month. Below are six ways finance charges can be calculated – one has been made illegal within the past decade. Click on the links for a more detailed explanation including example of how each finance charge calculation method works.
The ending balance method uses your balance at the beginning of the billing cycle minus payments plus charges made during the billing cycle – which is essentially your balance at the end of the billing cycle. The number of days in the billing cycle doesn’t affect the amount of the finance charge. Having a high balance at the end of your billing cycle would increase your finance charges under this method. The previous balance method uses the balance at the beginning of the billing cycle which is also the ending balance of the last billing cycle. No payments or charges are included in the balance. The number of days in the billing cycle doesn’t affect the amount of the finance charge.
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If your credit card issuer uses the average daily balance method to calculate your finance charge (check your credit card statement or terms and conditions to confirm), you can use these instructions to estimate your finance charge. You’ll need to have an idea of what your average credit card balance will be. Your credit card agreement may include a minimum finance charge that’s charged anytime your balance is subject to a finance charge. For example, your credit card terms may include a $1.00 minimum finance charge. If your calculated finance charge for a particular billing cycle is only $.65, you’ll be charged a $1.00 finance charge for that month.
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