Wavelength - brought to you by bcu

By Sally McMullen | Journalist at finder.com.au

While most of us would probably prefer to turn a blind eye to our credit card bills, there are a few steps you can take to make the experience of receiving and paying your bills more bearable. From getting your spending in check to knowing how much to pay and reorganising your repayments so that they work for you, check out these six easy steps to getting your credit card bills under control. 


1. Create a budget 

While your credit limit of a few thousand dollars (or more) may tempt you to spend, you should always do your best to stick to a budget. 

For example, if you’re using your credit card to pay for regular purchases (such as groceries or bills), you should create a set budget each month for how much you expect to spend on those things. This way, you’ll know exactly how much you have to repay at the end of each statement period and you can hopefully pay it off in full to avoid interest charges.

If you have big a ticket purchase planned or an event such as Christmas or a birthday coming up, you can always readjust your budget to accommodate for increased expenses. However, as long as your budget is realistic and you stick to it, this will ensure there are no nasty surprises when it comes time to pay your bill. 

2. Pay more than the minimum repayment amount

At the end of each statement period, you’re required to make a minimum repayment of 3% of your credit card balance. However, if you only pay the minimum amount required, this leaves 97% of your debt to collect interest and build up each month and it could end up taking you years to pay off even a small debt. 

For example, if you have a debt of $2,000 and you only make the minimum repayment each month, it would take you eight years and one month to clear the debt and would cost you $885 in interest. So, even if you can’t pay off your statement in full each month, you’ll still reduce your interest costs if you pay as much as you can beyond the minimum amount each statement period.

Check out this credit card calculator to see how much you could save on interest when you pay more than the minimum repayment amount.

3. Set up auto-payments 

Sometimes it’s easy to lose track of when your bills are due each month. If you have multiple bills that are due at different times throughout the month, try setting up an auto-payment so that money is automatically transferred from your debit account to your credit card bill on the correct due date. If you have a budget in place and you know how much you need to repay each month, this is an easy way to stay on top of your credit card payments, avoid late payment fees and keep your account in good standing. 

4. Move your statement due date 

Each month, you’re required to pay your credit card bill by a certain date. However, if you find it’s difficult to make your repayments because of the due date, try moving your statement due date closer to when your payday falls to better manage your cash flow. You can contact your financial services provider to request that your due date is moved to better suit your circumstances. 

5. Check your credit card statement regularly 

Even if you regularly pay your credit card bill on time, it’s important to stay on top of your statement. If you don’t usually pay your balance in full, you should check your statement consistently to ensure that you know exactly how much you owe. When you check your statement, you may find that you’ve been charged incorrectly or that your payments haven’t gone through successfully. 

Checking your statement can also help you to understand which types of transactions are collecting different interest rates (such as the purchase rate or the cash advance rate). As cash advance rates are usually higher than purchase rates and your financial services provider automatically pays off whichever debt is collecting the highest interest, this could help you to understand how your repayments are being allocated. 

If you do check your statement and find incorrect information or evidence of suspicious activity, contact your provider immediately. Check out Finder’s guide on how to read a credit card statement for more info. 

6. Contact your financial services provider for assistance 

If you’re struggling to keep your credit card bill under control, you can contact your financial services provider for assistance. They may be able to provide you with refinancing options, adjust your interest rate or provide you with tips for getting on top of your debt.

So there you have it. Whether it’s as simple as setting up an auto-payment or getting in contact with your financial services provider, there’s plenty you can do to take control of your credit card bill.

Important information

Information on this website is general and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether this information is suitable for your objectives, financial situation and needs before acting on the information provided.