Credit Card minimum payment will cost you in the long run

To better understand why paying the minimum can be so costly it is important to learn how the minimum payment is calculated. For an example let’s take a look at a credit card with a balance of $1,000 that has an APR of 18%. When you break the APR down to twelve monthly periods you end up with a 1.5% finance charge per month. For this example we will also use the assumption that the card calculates the minimum payment by 2.5% of the balance.

This means your minimum payment in the first month is $25, or $1,000 x 2.5%. With the card’s APR of 18% or 1.5% per month that means of that $25 payment only $10 is being applied to the balance while the other $15 is paying that month’s finance charge. During the next month your remaining balance is now $990 so your next minimum payment would be calculated as $24.75 ($990 x 2.5%). For this payment $14.85 covers that month’s finance charge while $9.90 is applied to the balance.

As you can see above, you have made almost $50 in payments yet only reduced your balance by $19.90. If you were to continue paying only the minimum and the features of this card remained unchanged it would take 153 months or almost 13 years to pay off a $1,000 initial balance. This would result in paying $1,115.41 on just interest alone, more than the amount of the original balance!