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What happens if I overpay my credit card?

what happen if i overpay my credit card

When you overpay your credit card, that extra amount will usually be credited to your account, which will mean a negative balance. In some cases, you may get a refund, but more commonly, you’ll be able to use it towards future purchases. 

While a negative account balance on your credit card may sound like a horrible situation to be in, it really isn’t, and it’s much more common than you might think. According to the American Bankers Association, about 60% of credit card users pay off their balances in full each month.1 And so, it can definitely be easy to overpay!

Here you’ll learn all about card balances, how you may end up with a negative account, how you can rectify the situation ASAP, and how you can avoid overpaying in the future! 

What Is a Negative Credit Card Balance?

A negative credit card balance is what happens when someone overpays their credit card bill; in other words, their balance has dipped below zero. A credit card is a revolving line of credit where borrowers have access to a set credit limit each month. At the end of each billing cycle, the borrower will receive a statement containing a detailed breakdown of their purchases, the accumulated balance for that month, as well as the overall balance owed. 

If a borrower happens to make a payment that is more than their overall balance, the result would be credit card overpayment. 

You can avoid a negative credit balance altogether by making purchases with your debit card instead of your credit card

How You May Have an Overpaid Credit Card Bill

Even the most financially responsible individual can have an overpaid credit card.

Below are a few reasons why consumers may end up with a negative card balance. 

Refunds

One way borrowers may accidentally overpay on their cards is if they received a refund on a purchase they’ve already paid off. For example, say you made a purchase amounting to $100 one month. Then, say you completely paid off your credit card balance but decided you wanted to return that $100 purchase later in the month. Assuming your balance is zero, the statement credit from the return would cause you to have a negative balance on your card. 

To avoid a negative balance from a return, ask the store cashier if it’s possible to receive your return credit in cash or on a debit card

Double Payments

If you have a large credit card bill, making double payments each month can be a great way to efficiently knock down that balance and save money on interest rates along the way. But double payments are also another way borrowers can end up with a negative credit balance. 

With online and mobile banking becoming more popular, it’s common for people to pay their card accounts and other bills via a website or mobile application. While this is usually a major convenience, online banking does sometimes come with technical errors. Sometimes a simple mistake like clicking the “submit payment” button too many times can result in an accidental double payment. 

Automatic Manual Payments

Autopay is a great way to stay on top of your bills, especially with debt such as bad credit loans, installment loans, cash advance loans, credit cards, and more. But, if you don’t keep track of them, you may also end up with a negative balance on your card. Automatic payments, also referred to as autopay, give your lender access to your bank account so they can automatically withdraw your payment on its due date. If an automatic and a manual payment go through at the same time, you may accidentally end up overpaying your account!

What To Do if You Overpay Your Card

If you have a negative balance, there are several options that can help rectify the situation. 

Request a Refund

If you overpaid your bill a significant amount, you can contact your issuer immediately and request a refund. In certain circumstances, your credit card company may be willing to issue an account credit that will effectively cancel out your overpayment. You can request a refund from your credit card issuer via the phone, email, or an online portal. 

However, keep in mind that card issuers do not easily give out refunds. You will most likely have to speak with a representative and explain the situation and why you need the refund. 

Spend the Surplus

If you are able to get by without the funding that went towards your card, you can simply do nothing and consider the overpayment as a cash advance. The amount you overpaid this month can simply be less money you have to put toward your bill next month. 

However, traditional banking regulations require that credit card companies attempt to issue a refund to customers who overpay if the customer does not spend the surplus in approximately six months or less.

Cancel the Payment

If you realize your overpayment error quickly enough, you may be able to cancel the payment. The fastest way to cancel a payment is to contact the issuer directly. Try to speak with an agent who can correct your account in real time. 

Keep in mind that each credit card issuer may have its own proprietary website rules and regulations regarding its financial products. This means that after you have submitted a payment, it may be up to the issuer’s discretion as to whether they cancel your payment, issue a refund, or leave the overpayment as a surplus on your account. 

Can a Negative Balance Hurt My Credit Score?

Generally, having a negative card balance shouldn’t negatively impact credit scores. But, having a negative balance may affect your credit card utilization. Credit utilization refers to how much credit you have available compared to how much you are currently using. For example, if you had a card with a credit limit of $1,000 and a balance of $500, your credit utilization would be 50%.  

How To Avoid Overpaying Your Credit Card

Even though overpaying your credit card may not be the biggest issue, you may still want to avoid getting yourself into a situation where you have negative balances. Check out some tips below for how to manage your credit card wisely and avoid overpaying. 

Set Up Balance Alerts

Set up account alerts to receive notifications of certain activities associated with your credit card account. You can choose to receive alerts when you are about to reach your credit limit, when your monthly payment due date is coming up, or you can receive alerts stating your most recent balances. Having your core account information sent to your email or phone can make your account details more accessible, so staying on top of your credit finances is a breeze.  

Review Your Monthly Statements (Use an Online Account For Added Convenience)

Know exactly how much you owe on your credit card bills by carefully reviewing your card statement each month. The more familiar you are with your financial situation, the less likely you are to overpay accidentally! 

Sign Up for Autopay

To avoid accidentally making a double payment or missing your due date altogether, you can sign up for automatic payments. Just make sure you don’t accidentally overpay by making a large manual payment as well!  

How Can a Negative Credit Card Bill Affect My Bank Account? 

Fortunately, having a negative credit card balance most likely won’t have any effect on your bank account at all. Since your card and bank account are two separate accounts, they do not always directly affect one another. 

However, if you accidentally made a double payment on your credit card and only had enough money in your checking account to cover a single payment, this may cause your credit card to have an effect on your bank account. When checking account balances dip below zero, there are several consequences account holders may face. They are: 

IssueDescription
Potential Overdraft Fees from Your BankFees incurred when withdrawing more money than the account balance.
Negative Information on Future Credit ReportsAdverse entries that may appear on credit reports due to financial mismanagement.
Rejected Payments for Scheduled Automatic PaymentsFailure of automatic payments due to insufficient funds in the account.

What Happens if I Underpay My Credit Card? 

Borrowers do not have to pay off their full balance every month, but if they carry a balance, they will have a minimum amount due. Your minimum amount due may be either a percentage of your overall balance or a standardized amount set by the credit card company. 

While overpaying your card doesn’t always have to be a big deal, underpaying certainly can be. Underpaying a credit card essentially means the borrower has failed to make a scheduled payment. Unfortunately, missing just one payment can negatively affect your credit reports for up to seven years. 

FAQS 

How will a negative balance on my card affect interest charges and fees?

When you have a negative credit card bill, you will not be charged any interest because there is no outstanding debt. However, you will not earn any interest either. When it comes to fees, there won’t be any late fees, and sometimes things like annual fees may be taken out of that negative balance.

What impact does an overpaid card have on my credit limit?

When you overpay your credit card, it doesn’t increase your credit limit. Instead, it results in a negative card balance. However, consistently overpaying might lead to the credit card issuer reviewing your account for unusual activity.

Can a negative balance on my card be transferred to another card, and how does this affect my credit limit?

Generally, negative balances cannot be transferred to other credit cards. This negative balance does not affect your credit limit, as it signifies that the credit card issuer owes you money, not the other way around.

Does a negative balance hurt my credit score?

No, this will not hurt your credit score. It simply means that the card company owes you money, which has no adverse effect on your credit rating.

How does a negative balance affect my current card balance and credit limit?

A negative balance reduces your current balance, showing as a credit from the issuer. This does not, however, increase your credit limit. Your credit limit remains the same, irrespective of the negative balance.

What should I do if my statement shows a negative balance after making the minimum payment?

If your credit card statement shows a negative balance after making the minimum payment, it means you’ve overpaid. You can either spend the balance or contact your credit card issuer to request a refund.

How long will a credit card refund take to process if I have a negative balance?

Answer: The processing time for a credit card refund can vary depending on the issuer’s policies. It typically takes a few business days, but it can sometimes take longer.

Is it possible for negative balances to expire if I don’t use the credit card?

Negative balances usually don’t expire, but credit card companies may automatically issue a refund check if the balance remains negative for an extended period, typically around six months.

Can I earn rewards or cash back on the amount of my negative balance?

No, you do not earn rewards or cash back on a negative balance. Rewards are typically earned on new purchases, not on existing credits.

What should I do if I notice unauthorized transactions leading to a negative balance?

If you notice unauthorized transactions on your credit card, you should immediately report them to your credit card issuer. They will investigate the issue and may issue a refund for the fraudulent charges, which could result in a negative balance.

The Bottom Line With CreditNinja: Having a Negative Balance on Your Bill 

While a negative balance on your credit card may bring up a few inconveniences, it’s not the end of the world. If you overpaid your credit card and currently have a negative balance, reach out as soon as you are aware of the situation to see what your card company can do for you. To learn more about credit cards, such as how many credit cards are too many, paying off credit cards, and understanding them, check out the CreditNinja dojo.

References:

  1. Credit Card Facts and Tips | American Bankers Association
  2. What Happens if You Overpay Your Credit Card? | Experian
  3. What happens if you overpay your credit card? | Lexington Law

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