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Important Dates to Know for Your Credit Cards

Awareness of key dates will help you avoid unnecessary fees.

A woman is holding her credit card in her right hand while she scrolls on the laptop sitting on her lap.
Anna Kolesnikova / EyeEm/Getty Images

Credit card statements come monthly. Annual fees are due once per year. And credit cards typically expire after three to five years. Staying aware of important dates will keep your credit account in good standing and help you avoid late fees, penalties and interest charges. Here's everything you need to know about credit cards' key dates.

How a credit card's monthly billing cycle works

Credit card issuers send account holders a statement once a month. Each billing cycle closes on an assigned statement closing date set by your issuer. When you receive your billing statement, it will display the closing date of the billing cycle. You can also check this date by logging into your account online. 

Defined as the period between the last statement's closing date and the next's, a billing cycle typically lasts between 28 and 31 days, depending on the month. Payment due dates are usually between 21 to 25 days after the statement date.  According to federal law, credit card companies must provide a statement to you online or by mail at least 21 days before payment is due. 

When your statement period ends, your bank will issue a bill for the amount you owe. Most credit card companies offer a grace period between the end of a billing cycle and when your bill is due, meaning you won't face any interest charges during this time. However, if you don't pay off your statement balance in full by its due date, the remaining balance will begin to accrue interest. To avoid late fees or penalty interest rates, make sure to pay at least the minimum payment by the specified due date.

How your credit card's due date is determined

The payment due date, which is a minimum of 21 days after the statement closing date, is the last day you can make a payment for that billing cycle without getting slapped with a late fee. The due date has to be consistent from month to month to be in accordance with the CARD Act. If you're approaching your first statement due date and it falls on the 20th of the month, it will continue to be due on the 20th from here on out. If you prefer to spread out your bills so they align with your paydays, ask your credit card issuer to change your due date. 

Remember that you can change the payment due date to a more suitable day, though you can't set a different due date for each billing cycle. Some issuers allow you to make this request online, others may require you to do so over the phone. 

What is a credit card's expiration date?

The expiration date on your credit card serves a few purposes. It provides an extra layer of protection against unauthorized transactions.  And it gives card issuers an opportunity to ensure that your card remains in good working order.  

When is my annual fee due?

Credit card companies typically include any applicable annual fee on your first statement. Thereafter, the annual fee will be added once per year on the account anniversary. 

What is the timeline for a welcome bonus? 

A welcome bonus (or sign-up offer) is an incentive to use a new credit card in exchange for bonus miles, points or cash back, whichever reward aligns with the credit card. To receive the welcome bonus, you must meet a spending requirement within a designated timeframe -- usually around three months after opening the account. If you get approved for a credit card with a welcome bonus, the countdown begins when your account is opened. You will be ruled ineligible if you miss the deadline on a welcome bonus by even a day. If you're unsure how long you have to meet the spending requirement, contact your issuer and ask for clarification.

The bottom line

Credit cards can be valuable tools that allow you to build credit while, sometimes, earning the best rewards, as long as you can stay on top of critical dates that align with your card's billing cycle, grace period, statement closing date and so on. To avoid losing out on a welcome bonus, or being charged late payment fees or a penalty APR, make a note of your card's key due dates in your calendar and opt in for credit card autopay

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Correction, 7:30 a.m. PT Jan. 25: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that a credit card billing cycle can range from 28 to 30 days long. The article has been corrected to clarify that a credit card billing cycle range from 28 to 31 days, depending on the month.