Credit Building Tips

Can I Use My Credit Card the Same Day I Pay It Off?

Shaun Connell
September 22, 2023

Paying off your credit card can feel like a big weight off your shoulders. How long does it take for your payment to reflect in your available balance, though? Will you be able to use your credit card the same day you make a payment?

The answer is it depends.

Solution icon If you had available credit before your payment, there's no problem using your card on the same day you pay it off so long as you don't exceed your available credit. If your card was maxed out, it could take several days for the payment to process and for the credit to become available to you.

If your credit card and your bank account are from the same financial institution, it's possible that your available credit will be updated instantaneously. When money has to be transferred between banks, though, the process typically takes a few business days.

Can I Use My Credit Card the Same Day I Pay It Off?

If you've used almost all of your credit limit and you just made a payment toward your card, you might be wondering how quickly you'll be able to use your card for a transaction.

woman using credit card same day as payment

The answer to this question is going to depend on a number of different factors.

The first thing you'll want to know about is the Truth in Lending Act and how it dictates the way that card payments work. According to this Act, credit card issuers have to send you your statement at least 21 days before your payment due date. Furthermore, they must set a cutoff time when they need to receive your payment-- 5 p.m. or later. It's worth noting that if you plan on paying your credit card bill in person at a branch of the financial institution and that branch closes earlier than the cutoff time, the payment will only be considered on time if you pay before the branch closes.

  • Now that we have a sense of some of the rules that govern credit card issuers during the billing and payment process, we can answer the question of the day: when will more credit be available after making a payment?

If you paid your bill in a timely manner, you should probably see that your payment is credited on the same business day. If you didn't make the payment before the stated cutoff time, it will likely appear the next business day. At the same time, the fact that the payment is credited doesn't necessarily mean that your balance will be updated. Usually, the payment needs to be processed before it is reflected in your balance.

How Quickly Is Credit Available After Making a Card Payment?

When you go to make your credit card payment, it's easy to think that the funds should show up immediately once you click "pay."

man using credit card same day he made payment

Sometimes, though, your available credit limit won't change right away. On top of that, it might not show that the funds have been debited from your checking account immediately.

The fact that there's a time delay during the card payment process can be pretty stressful and frustrating. For example, you might be worried that your payment hasn't gone through and that you'll be subject to late fees. Beyond that, you might be waiting to free up some available credit so you can use your card for a purchase.

The truth is, that your credit card payment will likely process practically instantaneously if the bank account and credit card account are through the same bank. However, if you're paying between institutions, there's going to be a bit of lag between the two.

When you're dealing with two different institutions, you can typically expect the transaction to be completed up to three business days after you've made an online payment. If you sent your payment through the mail, it will probably take longer than that.

How Many Days Does It Take For Credit to Become Available After Payment?

How many days it will take for your available credit to be updated after payment depends on a number of factors. In most cases, though, you can expect that the credit will be available in one to three business days.

So, Can I Use My Card the Same Day I Make a Payment?

The answer is: that it depends.

If you have maxed out your credit card and are making a payment on the due date, you might have to wait a few days before you have more available credit.

However, if you still have available credit before you make your payment, there is no issue at all with using your card. The transactions you make will end up as a part of the next billing cycle, not as a part of the billing cycle you're currently paying a bill for.

Credited Vs. Processed: Understanding the Difference

In order for your credit card payment to be considered on time, it simply needs to be submitted by the due date. This means that it doesn't have to be fully processed by the due date-- you simply have to send the payment through.

Once your card issuer acknowledges that you've made the payment, your payment will be credited. Your payment should typically be credited the same business day if you make your payment by a certain time on a business day-- often 5 p.m.

For payments made after this cutoff time or on a non-business day will usually be credited the next business day.

For your credit card payment to fully process, it might take up to three days. However, your payment typically only needs to be submitted by the due date in order to be on time.

What exactly is the difference between a payment being credited and processed?

  • A payment is credited when your payment is acknowledged by the creditor. You can usually expect that your payment will be credited by the same day if you make a digital payment on a business day by 5 pm. If you make a digital payment on the weekend or after 5 pm during the week, you might not see the payment credited until the next business day.
  • A payment is processed when the funds have actually been received by the creditor from your bank account. In some cases, this process can happen right away, while in others, it can take up to three business days. You can know that your payment has been processed when the funds have been taken from your bank account and your credit card account reflects the payment in the form of your available credit.

Why Is There No Available Credit After I Paid Off My Credit Card?

When you pay off your credit card, it's natural to expect that you should be able to start using it again right away. It can be disconcerting to say the least, to see that there isn't any credit available after you've initiated a large payment.

There are a number of different reasons this could occur. If you have only recently made the payment, the most likely reason is that the payment hasn't finished processing. It may take a few business days for your available credit to reflect the payment that you made.

It's also possible that the credit card issuer has put a hold on your account, which can happen for a number of different reasons. For example, a company might put a hold on the account if:

  • You've missed payments
  • You've gone over your credit limit
  • You have missed payments or gone over your credit limit several times in the past

Delays in available credit can also occur if:

If it seems like there is no good reason for your available credit to still be zero after making a payment, contact your card issuer and ask for an explanation. They will likely be able to get you more information about why this is happening or let you know what steps to take if it does appear to be a mistake of some sort.

How to Make Sure Your Credit Card Payments Process Quickly

It's totally reasonable to want your payment to post quickly. On the one hand, you might want to make sure that there is enough money in your bank account to cover the cost and are therefore interested in the payment occurring sooner rather than later. On the other hand, you might be hoping to free up some available credit so you can continue to use your card.

  • At the end of the day, your credit card issuer and your bank are in control of how quickly your payment gets processed.

However, there are a few things you can do to try and make the process go as fast as possible.

  • Pay electronically: Paying your credit card payment by mail is going to slow down the entire process. Instead, consider using your card company's mobile app or website to pay your bill. You also might find that paying over the phone is a convenient way to help speed the process along.
  • Make sure you have the funds: It's important to make sure that there is enough money in your bank account to cover the payment that you're making. Not only can this cause a delay in payment, but it could lead to late fees and other penalties if the issue leads to payment being late. On the other hand, making a payment without enough funds could leave you dealing with a bank overdraft fee.
  • Make your payment at the beginning of the week: Different issuers have different systems for processing payments, but some will only process payments Monday through Friday. This means that it can take longer to process payments made during the weekend. If you're worried about there being a processing delay, make your payment earlier in the week so you don't get delayed by the weekend.

Credit Card Payment FAQs

Before I sign off, let's take a look at some of the most common questions I receive about making credit card payments.

When Is the Best Time to Pay My Credit Card Bill?

The best time to pay your credit card bill depends on your circumstances, your financial situation, and your goals.

For instance, if you don't usually use more than 30% of your credit limit and you always pay off the balance in full every month, the timing isn't particularly important so long as you make your payment by the due date.

  • On the other hand, if you usually use more than 30% of your credit limit or you typically carry a balance from month to month, paying early could potentially benefit you.

One of the reasons why it can be beneficial to pay early is that credit card issuers will report to credit bureaus on different dates-- typically around the time of your statement closing date. If you want to make sure your credit score is as healthy as possible, paying before the reporting date can help ensure your credit utilization ratio is on the lower end.

Your credit utilization ratio is one of the main factors in your credit score. The lower your credit utilization, the better. This is a metric that compares the amount of credit available to you to the balance you are currently carrying.

What Day Do You Pay a Credit Card to Avoid Interest?

If you want to avoid paying any interest on your credit account, you'll want to pay your bill in full every month on or before the due date.

  • Most credit cards offer a grace period, which is a period of time when you aren't accruing interest on your purchases.
  • If you pay off what you have borrowed in full before the grace period has ended, you won't have to pay any interest.

It's worth noting that you lose your grace period on new purchases if you are carrying a balance from month to month. This is true even for small balances. What this means is that all of your transactions will start accruing interest immediately until the full balance has been paid off.

Is It Better to Pay a Credit Card Early on the Due Date?

It's no secret that it's important to pay your credit card bill on time. However, some people say that it's worth going the extra mile and making your payment early. Is this really worth it, and, if so, what are the benefits?

There are a few reasons you might make your credit card payment early.

  • On the one hand, you might be worried about accruing late fees and missed payment marks on your credit report. If you like to have a little peace of mind in this regard, you can simply pay early so you know it's done. This can also afford you extra time if there's an issue transferring the money from your bank account or something of that sort.
  • On the other hand, some people like to pay their card early because it can help their credit score. This is particularly important if you are planning on applying for a mortgage, loan, or new credit card, as making your payment early could help you appear to be a more trustworthy borrower.

Whether it's better to pay your bill early or on the due date really has to do with your own financial situation and goals. The most important thing is to make sure the bill is paid by the due date. Otherwise, it can seriously damage your credit score while also leaving you paying a late fee and interest.

Should I Pay Off My Credit Card Bill In Full?

Whenever possible, it's a good idea to pay off your credit card balance in full.

When you have a credit card balance carried over from month to month, it can:

  • Cost you interest
  • Increase your credit utilization rate
  • Impact your credit score

Of course, it isn't always possible to pay off your credit card in full every month. In general, though, it's best to put as much money towards it as you can every month. Any amount you can put toward the bill will help to reduce how much-compounded interest you are saddled with.

When you have a large amount of credit card debt you're trying to get a handle on, it's a good idea to trim your discretionary spending and create a strict budget. This will help you find extra money to put towards your bill every month, allowing you to get out of debt faster and reduce the total cost of borrowing.

It's worth noting that there are other ways to borrow money that can be much less expensive than credit cards, such as a personal loan.

Should I Close My Card After I Pay Off My Debt?

If you've been dealing with credit card debt and you've finally paid it off, you might be wondering whether you should just take a pair of scissors to that small plastic rectangle. The truth is, it's generally a good idea to keep your cards open after you've paid your debt unless they have a large annual fee. The reason for this is that closing your account could mean that your credit score goes down, as it can raise your credit utilization ratio.

  • There are some other reasons why you might choose to close your credit cards even though it could hurt your score.
    • For example, if you have a really hard time resisting the urge to use your available credit when you have it, it's better to take a hit on your credit score than get back into crippling debt.

Ultimately, one of the best things you can do once you've paid off your credit card debt is to start using the money you've been putting toward your card bill and building an emergency fund. According to a study from the Federal Reserve, 40% of Americans would struggle to find the money to pay for a $400 emergency expense. That's a pretty scary place to be, and building an emergency fund can help ensure you don't get caught in a financial pickle.

It's generally recommended that your emergency fund consists of at least three to six months of living expenses. Anything is better than nothing, though, and you might find it's a good goal to save $500 for an emergency fund to begin with.

When It Comes to Credit, Knowledge Is Power

Whether or not you can use your credit card on the same day you make a payment is going to depend. If you have plenty of available credit before you make your payment, using it on the same day won't be a problem at all so long as you don't try to spend more than what is available to you.

On the other hand, if your card is maxed out and you just made a payment, you might not be able to use it the same day. How quickly credit is made available to you depends on your bank and your credit card issuer. If your credit card and bank account are from the same financial institution, the payment might be processed instantaneously, and the credit will be made available right away.

  • If your credit card issuer and your bank account are from different financial institutions, however, it might take several business days for the payment to process. Once the payment is processed, you should see it reflected in your available credit.

Are you working to build a greater understanding of credit and credit cards to ensure you have as many financial opportunities as possible down the road? If so, you're in the right place!

Make sure you check out the rest of our Credit Building Tips blog for more resources, guides, and articles to help you improve your credit.

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Written By:
Shaun Connell
Shaun Connell is a personal finance and credit expert with a passion for helping individuals eliminate debt and improve their credit. He's enjoyed writing investing and financial content for over 15 years, with expertise in real estate, debt, banking, credit, and wealth building. His work has been seen by millions on the web.

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