If you are new to the credit card industry, you may be asking yourself, “What happens if I overpay my credit card?” While a negative 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.
Here you’ll learn all about credit 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 credit card payment that is more than their overall balance, the result would be a 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 accidentally overpay on their credit card and end up with a negative balance.
Below are a few reasons why consumers may end up with a negative credit card balance.
One way borrowers may accidentally overpay on their credit card balances 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 credit card 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.
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 credit 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 Payments and Manual Payments
Autopay is a great way to stay on top of your bills, but if you don’t keep track of them, you may also end up with a negative balance on your credit card. Automatic payments, also referred to as autopay, gives your lender access to your bank account so they can automatically withdraw your payment on its due date. If an automatic and a manual credit card payment go through at the same time, you may accidentally end up overpaying your account!
What To Do if You Overpay Your Credit Card
If you have a negative balance, there are several options that can help rectify the situation.
Request a Credit Card Refund
If you overpaid your credit card 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 credit 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 Credit Card Surplus
If you are able to get by without the funding that went towards your credit 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 credit card 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 Credit Card Payment
If you realize your overpayment error quickly enough, you may be able to cancel the payment. The fastest way to cancel a credit card 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 their 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 Credit 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 Credit Card 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 credit 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 accounts balances dip below zero, there are several consequences account holders may face. They are:
- Potential overdraft fees from your bank.
- Negative information reported on your future credit reports.
- Rejected payments for previously scheduled automatic payments.
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 credit 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 credit card payment can negatively affect your credit reports for up to seven years.
The Bottom Line: Having a Negative Balance on Your Credit Card 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 credit card company can do for you.
What Happens if You Overpay Your Credit Card? | Experian
What happens if you overpay your credit card? | Lexington Law