Multiple monthly card payments can boost credit scores

Opening Credits columnist Eric Sandberg
Erica Sandberg is a prominent personal finance authority and author of "Expecting Money: The Essential Financial Plan for New and Growing Families." She writes "Opening Credits," a weekly reader Q&A column about issues for people who are new to credit, for

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Question Dear Opening Credits,
Can I make several (four) payments per month on my card balance? Or I can only make one payment a month? – Jack


Dear Jack,
What you are proposing is one of my favorite techniques to keep card balances under control. Not only can you make multiple payments in any given month, there is no reason to wait until the just before the due date if you don't have to.

To make multiple payments (also called micropayments), you can either log onto the credit card issuer’s website or use your bank’s online bill-pay system. As long as you have an account set up, you can pay in seconds. It may take a few days before the payment is posted, but when it does, your credit card balance will be lowered by the sum you sent.

Most credit card issuers and banks allow cardholders to send payments with a free app, too, so you can pay with your smartphone or tablet. If yours does, download it. Then, each time you make a charge with your credit card, pick up your portable device and send the exact amount you just charged from your checking account to your card.

The benefits of this charge-and-pay process are multifold:

  1. Your credit rating should increase. By constantly borrowing and repaying with your credit card, you are proving that you are a responsible person. It’s an indication that you don’t rely on credit cards to make ends meet, but instead are using plastic like a savvy professional. Credit scores are based on credit activity, and since you’ll have a robust history of perfect payments and no carried over balances, your scores should rise. Any new lender will view you as a low-risk customer and preferred accounts will soon be available to you.
  2. You will always remain in the black. It's absurdly easy to overcharge with a credit card, and many accounts come with large limits that can be too tempting. However, if you delete each charge as it happens, you will avoid racking up unmanageable card debt. All you have to do is ensure you have enough money in your checking account to cover your charges.
  3. You'll never pay interest or late payment fees. Outside of not having a big bill hanging over your head, paying constantly will guarantee that the creditor won't add financing fees to what you spend with the card. Plus, by keeping on top of your balance this way, you can also avoid incurring any late payment charges.
  4. Rewards! If your credit card allows you to rack up rewards points and you use the card a lot, you will not just stay out of expensive debt but profit from the process. The more points you accumulate, the more you can trade in for goods, services, airfare and even cash.
  5. You will always be in control. I can't tell you how many thousands of people I have spoken to over the years who have felt as if their credit cards and resulting debt have taken over their lives. It's a terrible way to live, and also unnecessary. With the as-you-go payment method, you’ll enjoy an extra sense of control. You’ll never be shocked by the size of your monthly bill.

Of course, there may be times when you choose to charge something expensive and pay it off over a couple of months. As long as this doesn’t become a habit, that’s fine, too. Just be sure you plan for payments and accept that it will be a bit more costly due to interest being added in. Your credit rating may be negatively impacted by a debt that is close to the credit limit, but when you get the balance back down to zero, your scores should recover.

See related: Cut your debt using micropayments, Payoff order for multiple cards: Which one first?

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Updated: 03-23-2019