You just received your credit card statement. Your cash flows for the month are already stretched. You realize that you won’t be able to make full payment towards your credit card dues. You are aware that the interest on credit card debt (or unpaid amount) is extremely high. You stumble upon an item Minimum Amount Due in your credit card statement? It is a small fraction of the total outstanding amount. You are wondering what Minimum Amount Due (MAD) means? Does it mean you will not be charged any interest if you pay the Minimum Amount Due? What if you do not even pay the Minimum Amount Due? Let’s find out everything you need to know about Minimum Amount Due.
How Does Paying Minimum Amount Due Help?
Minimum Amount Due is the minimum amount that you need to pay to the bank/credit card company by the due date to keep your account regular and avoid payment of any late payment fees.
Payment of minimum amount due ensures that you get away with paying only the interest. There will be no late payment or other finance charges applicable. Additionally, if you keep the account regular by paying MAD by the due date, the bank will not report your account as irregular to the credit bureaus. If your credit card account is reported irregular, your credit history/score will be adversely affected. This can be a problem if you are planning to take a loan in the near future.
By paying the minimum amount due, you cannot avoid interest on the unpaid amount.
How Is Minimum Amount Due Calculated?
Minimum Amount Due is typically 5% of the balance outstanding on the statement date. If you have opted for EMI balance transfer or purchase on EMI, that amount will also be added to your Minimum Amount Due. Any unpaid Minimum Amount from previous statement will be added to your current minimum amount due to arrive at total Minimum Amount due.
For the rest of this post, let’s assume the following:
- Credit card is generated on 5th of every month
- The payment has to be made by 26th of every month
- Interest will charged at 3% per month
- Late payment fees of Rs 500
Let’s try to understand the calculation with the help of an example.
|June 15||Purchase||10,000||You get interest free period.|
|July 5||Statement||10,000||Due date July 26. Minimum Amount Due: 500|
(5% of Rs 10,000)
|July 20||Payment||500||Payment for only Minimum Amount Due (MAD)|
|July 25||Purchase||15,000||No interest free credit period|
|August 5||Interest||682||Calculation shown below|
|August 5||Service Tax||95||Service tax on interest|
|August 5||Statement||25,278||Minimum Amount Due: Rs 1,263.40|
|August 26||No payment (not even minimum amount due made by August 26). Hence, late payment fee will be applicable|
|August 30||Late payment fee||684||Late payment fee: Rs 600 Service Tax: Rs 84. Typically charged after 3-5 days from due date if MAD not paid|
|September 5||Interest||778||Calculation shown below|
|September 5||Service Tax||109||Service tax on interest|
|September 5||Statement||26,848||Statement Amount (25,268) + Late payment fees (684) + Interest (777) + Service Tax (109)Minimum Amount Due: Rs 1,263.4 + (Rs 26,838 – Rs 1,263.4)*5% = Rs 2,542|
|Interest Breakup for August Statement||Amount|
|Interest on Rs 10,000 from June 15 to July 19||345.2|
|Interest on Rs 9,500 from July 20 to August 5||159.3|
|Interest on Rs 15,000 from July 25 to August 5||177.5|
|Interest Breakup for September Statement||Amount|
|Interest on Rs 25,278 from August 6 to September 5||772.9|
|Interest on Service Tax from August 30 to September 5||4.7|
You can see late payment fee was not charged in July since you had paid the minimum amount. However, the interest has been charged on the unpaid amount from the date of purchase (and not from statement date or due date). So, you are not avoiding high interest cost by making the minimum payment.
In August, since you didn’t make the minimum payment, late payment fees was charged.
No Interest Free Credit Period If You Only Pay the Minimum Amount Due
If you are making regular and full payment to your credit card account, you can get interest free credit for up to 52 days. You will get up to 21 days to settle after your credit card statement date to clear the outstanding amount. Interest free credit period/grace period may vary across banks/credit card companies.
For your purchases made between August 6 and September 5, the payment due date will be September 26. So, for the purchase made on August 5, you will have to pay the dues on or before September 25, 2015. This gives you a maximum period of 52 days to settle the dues. Of course, if you make the purchase later, you will lesser number of days to settle the dues.
|Purchase Date||Interest free credit period on purchase|
|August 6, 2015||52 days|
|August 30, 2015||26 days|
However, if you have not made the full payment and paid only Minimum Amount Due to keep your credit card account regular, you will not get any interest free credit period. You will be charged interest from the date of purchase. In the above example, if you had not made the full payment as per your previous statement, you will be charged interest from the date of purchase till the date of payment.
Therefore, in statement issued on September 5, you will be charged interest for 7 days on the purchase made on August 30. You will continue to be charged interest on this purchase till such time you settle the dues for this purchase. So, you might have succeeded in keeping your credit card account regular by paying Minimum Amount Due and avoided any late payment fees. However, there is no interest free period.
Let’s try to assess the impact through an illustration.
How Is Interest Charged on Credit Cards?
The assumption will be the same as described earlier. Minimum Amount Due will be paid every month to avoid late payment fees. There will be fresh purchases every month.
|June 15||Purchase||5,000||You get interest free period.|
|June 30||Purchase||5,000||You get interest free period.|
|July 5||Statement||10,000||Due date July 26. Minimum Amount Due: 500 (5% of Total Outstanding)|
|July 8||Purchase||8,000||You get interest free period.|
|July 20||Payment||10,000||Full payment|
|July 25||Purchase||15,000||You get interest free period.|
|August 5||Statement||23,000||For purchases made on July 8 and July 25. Due date: August 4 Minimum Amount Due: 1,150|
|August 12||Purchase||10,000||You get interest free period.|
|August 26||Payment||1,150||Paid only Minimum Amount Due. Credit free period for purchase on July 8, July 25 and August 12 will be reversed. Interest will be charged from the date of purchase|
|August 30||Purchase||5,000||No interest free credit period|
|September 5||Interest||1,679||Interest charged from the date of purchase. Detailed breakup of interest amount provided below|
|September 5||Service Tax||235||Service Tax on Interest|
|September 5||Statement||38,764||Statement Amount (23,000) – Payment (1,150) + Fresh Purchases (15,000) + Interest (1,679) + Service Tax (235)|
Breakup of Interest Calculation
|Interest on Rs 8,000 from July 8 to August 25||386.6|
|Interest on Rs 6,850 from August 26 to September 5||74.3|
|Interest on Rs 15,000 from July 25 to September 5||636.2|
|Interest on Rs 10,000 from August 12 to September 5||236.7|
|Interest on Rs 5,000 from August 30 to September 5||345.2|
You can see that for the purchase made on July 8, there was no interest charged in statement dated August 5. However, since you paid only the minimum payment due, the interest free credit period given was reversed and you were charged interest in the September statement from the date of purchase i.e. July 8.
What Happens If You Keep Paying Just the Minimum Amount Due?
Yes, you have to bear high interest cost and there will be no interest free credit period. You will avoid late payment fees and adverse reporting to credit bureaus. But how long will it take to settle the dues?
Let’s continue with the same assumptions made earlier.
Suppose you make a single purchase of Rs 10,000 in this month. You made this purchase on the first day of your credit statement cycle. You choose to minimum payment due every month. Additional, you do not make any additional purchases for any future months. Let’s see how long it will take you to repay the debt if you keep paying just the minimum amount due every month.
|Minimum Payment Policy||Time taken to repay debt||Total Amount paid (Rs.)||Total Interest Paid|
|Rs 500 or MAD, whichever is higher||36 months||17,665.4||7,665.4|
|Rs 100 or MAD, whichever is higher||130 months||28,074.3||18,074.3|
|Rs 250 or MAD, whichever is higher||77 months||24,391.9||14,491.9|
|Rs 750 or MAD, whichever is higher||19 months||14,250.0||4,250.0|
|Rs 1,000 or MAD, whichever is higher||13 months||13,000.0||3,000|
You can see you need to retire you credit card debt soon. Payment of just the minimum amount due will not control your interest cost. The less you pay, the more interest you have to bear.
Credit card debt is the most expensive debt in the financial sector. You should always strive to make credit card payments in full. Payment of Minimum Amount Due can be an option for short term cash flow crisis. You do avoid late payment fees and adverse reporting to credit bureaus by making the minimum payment. However, this can only be a short term arrangement.
We have already seen how long it will take to settle the dues if you keep making the minimum payment. If you are in such a crisis, you need to revisit your cash flows and cut down on few expenses, if required. If that does not work, you can talk to your friends/family to lend a helping hand. Alternatively, you can explore ways to reduce interest cost through personal loans or credit card balance transfers.