How a dumb credit card payment mistake cost me $61.03

Since gotten my first credit card many years ago, I have always followed my dad’s advice – use the credit card like a debit card and pay off the full amount at end of each month. Personally I have developed my own approach. Instead of paying whatever amount is listed on the monthly statement, before making a payment, I would log in to the credit card’s online banking website, check the current outstanding balance, and make a payment of the current balance.

Using this approach, I have never received any credit card interest charges.

So you can imagine how surprised and shocked I was when I received a paper statement in the mail the other day and saw an interest charge line item of $61.03.

“What the heck?” The interest charge didn’t make any sense to me at all.

Note: This particular credit card is a card I use for work. There’s no online statement available, so I rely on the monthly paper statements to determine how much I owe. In other words, I go against my approach and do not pay the current outstanding balance for this particular credit card.

I took a close look at the statement again and noticed a very very stupid mistake that I made.

The previous balance was $4,456.34 but I only paid $4,453.08.

Somehow I managed to type in the wrong number when I made an online payment last month.

Very S-M-R-T!!! 


A $3.26 difference led to an interest charge of $61.03?

Did they charge the interest based on the full $4456.34? Something just didn’t add up.

So the next day I called the credit card company. As I expected, $61.03 interest charge was based on the amount I charged on the card, not the balance difference. So I got dinged for on the full $4,456.34 for twenty-something days worth of daily interest charge.

Darn! No wonder people get into never-ending crazy credit card debt! 

I explained to the customer representative about my dumb mistake. Luckily he looked at my payment history, noticed that I always paid in full each month, and decided to waive the interest charge.


Lesson learned? Always double or tripe check when making a credit card payment using your bank’s online payment system.

PS: Isn’t it a bit ironic considering I just recently wrote about my beef with personal finance experts?


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33 thoughts on “How a dumb credit card payment mistake cost me $61.03”

  1. Whoa I had no idea credit card companies charge interest based on the full balance, not the difference in amount paid and not paid. Generally for the most part, credit card companies are great at giving a pass on the first interest payment so it was great that you were able to get it waived!

  2. Smart move! 😉

    Good thing that all of this is automated in Belgium. You just need to be sure to have enough money on your linked account. I get a warning email about 8 days in advance. Plenty of time to fund the account and avoid hassle…

  3. As for the such mistakes, been there done that!
    Also proves that if you just ask for forgiveness, it usually is granted (assuming your payment history is OK). To avoid this hassle, we just have automatic withdrawals of the balance owed every month, so I don’t forget to make typo’s when paying bills of credit card balances.

  4. I’ve made that same mistake before myself – so irritating! I always pay my credit card off every month and have money left over in the bank, so it just makes it that much more frustrating!

    In order to avoid this happening in the future, I ended up setting up my credit card for auto-pay from my bank account, there’s always plenty in there – luckily!

  5. I had a company send a check back to me say they could not cash it. sent it back with a copy of the letter and envolope and they cashed it but charged me interest. I refused to pay it. argued with them it built up to over a 250.00 dollars and they sent it to a collections agency. Short story i got a letter from the collection agency after calling them and telling them i was not at fault saying that if i payed 50 that was it no more letters. so i went against my better judgement made a copy sent a check. thinking i wouldn’t hear from them again. they sent me a bill the next month. needless to say no more conversation with them and the delinquet bill is no longer on my credit report.

  6. That has happened to me too, and luckily they will waive the charge if it’s your first time. But that’s pretty messed up that the credit card company charges on the entire balance! I have my cards on autopay (entire balance) to avoid future mistakes.

  7. Everyone makes mistakes, I also let a renewal fee slip up the other day.
    You did the right thing calling customer service, they very often waive the fee (even the renewal fee).

  8. Ah good to hear, but crazy to see how much interest was accrued on that small amount. Anytime I open a credit card I typically change the billing date to the 15th so I know to pay all of mine off on the same day. Clearly that wouldn’t have helped your situation, but probably good for others to know that you can change your billing date so you never forget the date at least!


  9. Yeap, we all make mistake sometime. I missed a payment once a while back too. It’s nice that the credit card company let us off the hook once in a while. Oh, my tipping point is very low. I would call and complain even if I see an explained $2 charge. You need to keep a very close eye on your credit cards.

  10. It is amazing that the devil is always in the detail. Includes paying attention to the little things.
    Kudos to you for putting the rational case forward to avoid the charge. I often have to control my emotions when speaking to customer service reps. Easy for emotions to rise especially when they go into the “Procedure and Policy” mode.

  11. Banks know that if they just take a little most people would not invest the time to complain etc. My question is what is your tipping point. Would you make a call to the credit card company if the charge was only $5? I often wonder how many people just accept whatever happens and the bank wins by default. A good comparison would be of how many people take the time to mail in product rebates. They know many people will not spend the effort.

    • Good point Mike. I’m the type of person that would phone in regardless what the charge is. A dollar saved is a dollar saved. But I can see that many people would probably just pay the amount and continue with their lives.

  12. I did something similar a few months ago and got my interest charged reversed with a 5 minute phone call! Being a good long term customer has its perks!

  13. Mistakes do happen! I think the same thing has happened to me a couple times too.

    Usually the credit card company will dismiss the charges, and if they don’t I tell them I want to cancel my card.

    Of course, I’ve never actually needed to cancel a card. Within a few moments they find a way to make those charges disappear.

  14. I’m pretty sure what you do is unnecessary, I always pay the amount written on the statement and never been charged anything extra in past 10 years on different credit cards in different countries. Except once which my automatic payment didn’t go through because of low balance on my checking account… and same as your case, they waived it for me, as it was my first (and last) “mistake”!

    • Maybe it’s not necessary but since many of the credit cards I don’t get paper statements, I just pay whatever the current balance is. Works for me but I can see some advantage of just paying amount on the monthly statment.


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