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6 Important Dates to Know for Your Credit Cards

Avoid unnecessary fees and earn rewards by knowing the key dates associated with your credit card.

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It can be hard to keep track of all the important dates associated with your credit card -- especially if you have more than one card to keep tabs on. But missing a key date can cost you in more ways than one. For instance, missing a payment can damage your credit score and result in a hefty late fee. 

Keeping up with major dates related to your credit card will keep your credit account in good standing and help you avoid interest charges, late fees or penalties. It’ll also keep you from missing out on a welcome bonus or paying an annual fee for a card you no longer want. Below, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about the key dates linked to your credit cards. 

1. Your card’s monthly billing cycle

Your billing cycle includes any transactions posted between one statement’s closing date and the next’s. A credit card’s billing cycle typically lasts between 28 and 31 days. Credit card issuers send statements out once a month, and it will display the closing date of your billing cycle on it. You can also find this date on your online account or by contacting your credit card issuer. 

When your statement period comes to a close, you’ll receive a bill for the amount you owe. Most credit card companies offer a grace period -- the period of time between the end of a billing cycle and when your bill is due -- where your balance won’t accrue interest. You typically have 21 to 25 days after the end of the statement date to pay your bill, according to credit bureau Experian. If you don’t pay off your statement balance in full by its due date, you’ll be charged interest on the remaining balance. While you should ideally pay off your full statement balance each month, make sure you pay at least the minimum payment by the specified due date to avoid late fees or a penalty APR.

2. Your credit card’s due date

Your credit card’s payment due date is a minimum of 21 days after your credit card issuer delivers your statement to you, and it has to remain the same day for each billing cycle per the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009. The payment due date is the last day you can make a payment without getting hit with a late fee for that billing cycle.

For example, if your first payment due date falls on the 21st of the month, it will continue to be due on the 21st every month onwards. If your due date falls on a weekend or holiday and your issuer doesn’t process payments on that day, then your payment will be considered on time if it arrives by the next business day. 

If you’d like to schedule your bills to align with your paydays, ask your credit card issuer to change your due date. You can usually change the payment due date, but you can’t have different due dates for each billing cycle. Some issuers allow you to request this change online, though others may require you to contact a customer service representative. Some issuers may limit how many times you can change your due date in a given period of time.

3. Your card’s expiration date

The expiration date on your credit card helps protect your account against unauthorized transactions and allows card issuers to ensure that your card remains in good working order. Credit cards typically expire at the end of the month listed as the expiration date. When your credit card expires, your account remains open but the card itself will stop working for payments. Issuers typically mail out new cards before your card expires, though you may need to contact your issuer for a new card if you didn’t receive one automatically. 

4. When your annual fee is due

If your credit card has an annual fee, your issuer will typically add the fee to your first statement as a lump sum charge. After that, the annual fee will be charged once per year on or around the account anniversary. If you opened a card in November 2023, you should expect to pay your annual fee on your November statement every year from that point on. 

5. The timeline for your welcome bonus

A welcome bonus (or sign-up offer) is a one-time incentive to use a new card in exchange for bonus points, cash back or miles, per the terms of your credit card when you signed up. Not every credit card offers a welcome bonus.

After you get approved for a credit card with a welcome bonus, the clock starts ticking from the day your account is opened -- even if you don’t receive the physical card until a few days afterward. Most issuers allocate anywhere from three to six months from account opening to meet the spending threshold on a welcome bonus. You won’t receive your card’s welcome bonus if you miss the deadline by even a day, and pending transactions may not count toward your spending threshold if it doesn’t post to your account by the deadline. Contact your issuer if you need clarification.

6. Your intro APR end date

If you’re taking advantage of an intro 0% APR offer -- whether it’s to finance a purchase, to pay off a balance transfer or both -- mark your calendar for the end of introductory period. It typically lasts from nine to 21 months, depending on the card, allowing you to pay down the balance without accruing interest. Once that period ends, however, you’ll start accruing interest on the remaining balance at the regular variable APR rate. The current average credit card APR is over 20%, according to Bankrate, so forgetting the introductory APR end date could cost you a bundle in interest charges.

You can find the exact end date for your intro APR on your credit card statement, or by logging onto your online account or your credit card’s mobile app. Or you can call the customer service number on the back of your card to ask for the information.

The bottom line

If you stay on top of critical dates, like your credit card’s billing cycle, statement closing date, grace period and more, your credit card can be a valuable tool. But missing key dates can result in interest charges, late fees and damage to your credit score. Mark your calendar with any important dates and set up automatic payments on your card so you never miss a due date.

Correction: An earlier version of this article was assisted by an AI engine and it misstated the length of the credit card billing cycle. That point was corrected. This version has been substantially updated by a staff writer.

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Liliana Hall is an editor for CNET Money covering banking, credit cards and mortgages. Previously, she wrote about personal credit for Bankrate and She is passionate about providing accessible content to enhance financial literacy. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor's degree in journalism, and has worked in the newsrooms of KUT and the Austin Chronicle. When not working, she is probably paddle boarding, hopping on a flight or reading for her book club.
Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a senior editor for CNET Money with a focus on credit cards. Previously, she covered personal finance topics as a writer and editor at The Penny Hoarder. She is passionate about helping people make the best money decisions for themselves and their families. She graduated from Bowling Green State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and has been a writer and editor for publications including the New York Post, Women's Running magazine and Soap Opera Digest. When she isn't working, you can find her enjoying life in St. Petersburg, Florida, with her husband, daughter and a very needy dog.