Is it possible to make a part payment on my outstanding credit card balance?

Making a part payment is one way you can reduce your credit card balance more effectively than paying the minimum repayment.

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When you're presented with your credit card bill you have three choices: pay the minimum repayment amount, pay the full amount or pay an amount somewhere in between. There is technically a fourth choice of not paying it and incurring a late fee, but we don't recommend it.

The third choice is a part payment, and simply refers to you making a more substantial payment than the minimum repayment. A part payment will reduce what you owe, but won’t clear your debt completely.

Some people are under the impression that making part payments stops you being charged interest. Unfortunately that’s not the case. Let’s have a look at how part payments actually work.

How do part payments work?

When you make a part payment you reduce the total amount you owe your card provider. This allows you to keep using your card, and stops you running into any late fees. Because interest is charged on your outstanding balance, by reducing your balance you’ll reduce the amount of interest you’re charged.

Part payments don’t stop you accruing interest. The only way to completely avoid interest is to repay your entire balance every month. Anything left unpaid will be charged interest. You’ll also lose the benefit of your interest free days for the next billing period.

While part payments won’t help you during this billing period, they will help you during the next. This is because interest is charged daily, so by making part payments throughout the month you’ll reduce your balance and interest charges for the next billing period.

Let's look at an example.

Rob has a balance of $10,000, with a credit card that charges a rate of 19% p.a. If he paid the minimum repayment of 2% he'd make payments of roughly $200 each month and pay off approximately $500 off his balance in addition to $1,800 worth of interest over one year. If Rob kept this up it would take him longer than 25 years and more than $27,000 in interest.

If he instead made a part payment of $600 a month, he'd pay total interest of $1,803 over the 1 year and 8 months it would now take him to pay off his balance.

As you can see making a part payment can be a great solution to large credit card debt.

How can you use part payments on multiple credit card debts?

Having multiple credit card debts can make it difficult to pay your whole balance off. Here are some strategies which use part payments to reduce multiple credit card debts.

  • Pay the highest interest rate balance first. This strategy sees you order your debts from lowest interest rate to highest interest rate and pay the minimum repayment on all of them except for the highest interest rate debt. Make part payments on this debt and reduce it and then work your way down the list.
  • Pay the lowest interest rate balance. Another strategy concerning part payments is the snowball method. This sees you order your debts from smallest to largest. You pay the minimum repayment on all debts except for the smallest, which you make part payments on. Once this debt is paid off you move to the next debt, and pay the amount you were paying on your first debt in addition to the minimum repayment. This sees you gradually build up your part payments to bigger the debt is.
  • Pay highest balance first. You could employ a strategy similar to the snowball method except with the highest balance first.

Balance transfer offers

If you're in debt, one way to use part payments to their full effect is to take advantage of a balance transfer offer.

These allow you to transfer your debt to a new credit card and get a lower interest rate—sometimes even 0% for a number of months. This means your payments will go towards the principal debt rather than interest charges, and can give you a headstart.

Comparison of balance transfer credit cards

Updated December 15th, 2019
$
% p.a.
Name Product Balance transfer rate Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Amount saved
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Earn up to 70,000 bonus Velocity Points (60,000 in 3 months and 10,000 after first year). Plus, save with 0% p.a. for 18 months on balance transfers.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
0% p.a. for 13 months
0% for 13 months, reverts to 21.49% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Finder Exclusive:
Save with 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for 13 months (with no BT fee). Plus, a discounted $49 annual fee for the first year.
St.George Vertigo Classic
0% p.a. for 18 months
13.99% p.a.
$55 p.a.
Get 0% p.a. interest for up to 18 months on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee. Plus, a low annual fee and purchase rate.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card - Balance Transfer Offer
0% p.a. for 26 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
21.49% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn reward Points per $1 spent and take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 26 month balance transfer offer and a discounted $49 first year annual fee.
Citi Clear Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 9 months
0% for 9 months, reverts to 14.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Enjoy a $0 first year annual fee and a 0% introductory rate on purchases and balance transfers. Plus, complimentary purchase insurance cover.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 15 months with 1% balance transfer fee
21.49% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
80k bonus Citi reward Points when you spend $3,000 in 90 days and 40k the second year, up to 120,000 total. 120k Points = 48k Velocity Points.
Westpac Low Rate Card
2019 Winner
Westpac Low Rate Card
0% p.a. for 16 months
13.74% p.a.
$59 p.a.
A no frills, low rate card offering 0% p.a. interest on balance transfers for the first 16 months, with no balance transfer fee.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Classic
0% p.a. for 18 months
13.99% p.a.
$55 p.a.
Enjoy 0% p.a. interest for up to 18 months on balance transfers. Plus, a low annual fee and competitive purchase rate.
Virgin Money Low Rate Credit Card
0% p.a. for 14 months
11.99% p.a.
$49 p.a.
Get a $49 annual fee, 10% cashback on purchases made in the first 3 months (capped at $100) and a 14-month balance transfer.
BankSA Vertigo
0% p.a. for 18 months
13.99% p.a.
$55 p.a.
Enjoy a 0% p.a. interest rate for up to 18 months on balance transfers. Plus, a low annual fee and purchase interest rate.

Compare up to 4 providers

Credits don’t equal payments

If you buy something from a store and subsequently get a refund it won’t be counted as a payment. On your credit card statement you have a section where payments are listed. A credit won’t show up here, but will instead be in the section below where "Other credits or payments" are listed.

Repay your balance in full

As always, our advice is to repay your outstanding credit card balance in full each and every month whenever possible. It’s the only way to avoid interest and get the maximum benefit from your credit card's interest free days.

Part payments throughout the month are useful because they help minimise the interest you’re charged. If you’re not sure you’ll be able to clear your balance one month, making part payments is a good idea, or as mentioned above, if you’re already in debt they can be a good way to bring your balance back down to $0.

If you’re finding it hard to fully repay your balance or you feel tempted to spend more than you can afford, speak to your bank's customer service team and get them to reduce your credit limit, or see what other options may be available to you.
Images: Shutterstock

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Credit Cards Comparison

Updated December 15th, 2019
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate Annual fee
Latitude 28° Global Platinum Mastercard
21.99% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Save with 0% foreign transaction fees on purchases. Plus, complimentary flight delay passes and a global wifi access.
Citi Clear Platinum Credit Card
0% for 9 months, reverts to 14.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 9 months
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Enjoy a $0 first year annual fee and a 0% introductory rate on purchases and balance transfers. Plus, complimentary purchase insurance cover.

Compare up to 4 providers

* The credit card offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of credit cards finder.com.au has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing cards.

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