What Is the 15/3 Credit Card Payment Hack?
The 15/3 credit card payment hack is a strategy to help you pay off your monthly bills.
Contributing Writer at Tally
January 26, 2022
Do you struggle to make monthly payments on your credit card bills? Or, are you looking for ways to strategically time your payments to help boost your credit score? If so, you may want to consider the 15/3 credit card payment method.
This “hack” strategically times when you pay down your credit card balance for the month. If done correctly, you could end up lowering your credit utilization rate, which could potentially lead to an increase in your credit score. It also makes your balances more manageable when the due date comes around, which can help ensure you pay your balances on time and in full.
Let’s take a closer look at the 15/3 credit card payment hack, how it works and whether it’s right for you.
Overview of the 15/3 credit card payment hack
The 15/3 credit card payment hack is a personal finance strategy aimed at reducing the total balance on your credit card statement each month. With this method, you’ll make three payments:
One payment 15 days before your statement date
One payment three days before your statement date
The remaining balance by your payment due date
For this strategy to work, it’s important that you know the difference between statement dates and payment dates. When you use a credit card, you have a billing cycle, which typically lasts about 30 days. The end of this cycle is known as your statement date. This is the date when your credit card issuer records your outstanding balance and generates a statement.
From there, you will have a certain amount of time to pay off your outstanding balance. This period of time is known as a grace period. The grace period can vary from issuer to issuer, but the time must be at least 21 days. At the end of this period is the payment date, otherwise known as your due date.
There are ultimately three things that you can do by your due date:
Pay off your balance in full, and therefore avoid interest charges.
Make the minimum payment — which is found on your statement — and be charged interest by your credit card company on the remaining balance.
Pay nothing — or pay less than the minimum amount due — and be charged late fees on top of interest. Depending on your lender, you may also be charged a penalty interest rate on the balance.
Now that you have an understanding of statement dates and payment due dates, let’s look at how the 15/3 credit card payment plan works.
How does the 15/3 credit card payment hack work?
As mentioned above, with the 15/3 credit card payment plan, you’ll pay off a portion of your balance 15 days before your statement date. Then, you’ll pay off another portion of your balance three days before your statement date. Lastly, you’ll pay the remainder of your balance before your payment due date.
So, let’s say that you have a credit card and the statement date is the 30th of every month. The payment date is the 25th of the following month. You have $1,000 on the card as of the first of April and don’t use it again for the next two weeks. Under the 15/3 credit card payment plan, you’d pay off a portion of that balance on April 15.
One approach is to pick a percentage and stick to it. For the sake of this example, let’s use 50% for the first payment. So, on April 15, you put $500 toward your balance, and your remaining balance is $500.
Now, let’s say that you charge another $200 to the card on April 16 and $100 on April 25. Your balance is now $800. On April 27, you pay off 75% of your balance — $600.
You don’t charge anything else before your statement date, so the balance that is reflected on your statement is $200. You make this repayment in full by your payment due date avoiding any penalty fees and interest charges.
Depending on your credit card issuer, you may be able to set up the 15/3 credit card payment plan automatically, so you don’t have to make the payments manually. For example, you can schedule payments with your financial institution on the 15th and 27th days of the month. You can also schedule payments so that your statement balance is paid in full by your due date.
How can this credit card payoff strategy impact your credit score?
The 15/3 credit card payment strategy could potentially be an effective way to build credit because it emphasizes your credit utilization ratio.
Your credit utilization ratio is a measure of how much of your credit limit you’re using. For instance, let’s say that you have a $5,000 credit limit on a credit card, and you have a $1,000 balance. Your credit utilization rate is the percentage you’re using of the available credit, so 20%.
As a rule of thumb, it’s recommended to keep your credit utilization below 30% if you’re looking to build a good credit score.
Your balances are only reported to the credit bureaus — and, ultimately, your credit report — based on the amount outstanding on your statement date. By paying your balances off 15 and three days in advance, you’re able to use credit for purchases but not indicate to the credit bureaus that you have used as much as you have.
Based on the example in the section above, the credit bureaus think you only spent $200 of your available credit. In reality, you spent $1,300 during your billing cycle, but because you repaid $1,100 of it before the statement date, only $200 is reported as a balance.
Additionally, this credit card payoff method could be useful because it can potentially improve your payment history. As mentioned, the payments that you make during your billing cycle before the statement date aren’t reflected on your credit report, but there may still be a balance remaining that you need to pay off by your due date.
Paying this amount in full can potentially help improve your credit score. Because you are paying off some of your balances 15 and three days before the statement date, you are leaving yourself with more manageable balances. This increases the likelihood that you pay in full and may decrease the likelihood of late payments, which can cause a bad credit score.
Are there any alternatives to the 15/3 credit card payment hack?
The 15/3 credit card payoff hack is particularly useful for paying off balances so that you are not charged interest. If you do not pay the balance in full, your credit card issuer will begin charging you interest. The interest compounds, which can make it difficult to pay off the balance in full.
When learning how to pay off credit card debt, there are a few different options available. Ultimately, you should focus on finding a strategy that best suits your needs and current financial situation. Examples include:
Pay off your credit card debt today to help move toward financial freedom
If it’s used properly, a credit card can be a useful tool to build credit. It’s important that you pay your balances in full by your payment due date. One strategy that you could implement to help ensure you pay your balances is the 15/3 credit card payment method.
This plan reduces the total balance memorialized on your statement. It can potentially help keep your credit utilization ratio below 30% while also keeping your balances manageable to increase the likelihood that you pay on time and in full.
That being said, this method is particularly useful for managing your current balances. If you have existing credit card debt, you may want to consider a credit card payoff app like Tally†. Tally is designed specifically to help you pay down debt quickly and efficiently, with a lower-interest line of credit, so you can free up cash to put toward your other financial goals.
†To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. The APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% and 29.99% per year and will be based on your credit history. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Annual fees range from $0 - $300.