Q. Since I usually can’t pay off my entire credit card balance each month, how can I reduce those nasty finance charges?
A. Make a copy of the invoice as soon as you get it, and immediately pay some amount, at least the required minimum amount. Then, mail a second payment along with the invoice copy a week before the due date.
Even if the total of both payments is no more than your usual monthly payment, you’ll save. That’s because interest charges are calculated on each day you carry an outstanding balance, which can include purchases, cash advances and balance transfers made after your invoice is mailed.
This two-payment strategy is especially useful for cash-strapped folks whose paychecks or Social Security payments come bimonthly or monthly. It also prevents any possibility of a late fee, which is sometimes calculated using the date the credit card company processes your payment, rather than when it receives it.
Sid Kirchheimer writes about health and consumer issues.