What Happens if You Overpay Your Credit Card?

Quick Answer

Overpaying your credit card will result in a negative balance, but it won’t hurt your credit score—and the overpayment will be returned to you.

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It can be annoying to find that you've overpaid your credit card by mistake. Whether you had a payment on autopay and also made a payment manually, or accidently submitted a payment for more than your current balance, overpayments can happen for a variety of reasons. However, there's good news—you can get reimbursed by either making new purchases or requesting a refund from your card issuer.

What to Do if You Overpay Your Credit Card

Overpaying a credit card is one credit misstep with no potential to hurt your credit.

You have two choices for making the overpayment go away:

  1. Ask for a refund. You might request a direct deposit to your bank account or a check.
  2. Continue to use the credit card until the surplus in your credit card account has been used up.

If you do nothing, and the excess remains, banking regulations require that your credit card issuer attempt to send you a refund after six months.

If you notice an overpayment, it can be a good idea to contact your credit card issuer, particularly if the overpayment was significant.

Does a Negative Balance Hurt Your Credit Score?

A negative credit card balance will not hurt your credit score. Negative balances are not factored into your score.

Even so, it's best to avoid them if you can. A significant negative credit card balance can suggest fraud, because overpayments have been used in money laundering, so the credit card issuer could conceivably lock down your account if fraud is suspected.

The simplest way to deal with an overpayment is to use the card as you would normally and allow the overpayment to cover new purchases.

How to Avoid a Credit Card Overpayment

It's easy to accidentally overpay a credit card. Even the best intentions can be foiled. If you have, for example, put a minimum payment on autopay and then you pay the full balance manually, you might do it (though in that case, the error is likely to be relatively small and will probably only be a minor inconvenience). Still, it can pay to have a strategy. You definitely want to avoid making errors that involve adding zeroes. Here's what you can do:

Set Up Account Alerts

You can keep track of balances, get reminders of payment due dates and keep on top of how much of your credit card limit you are using with account alerts. They are free to set up.

Check Your Statement Carefully

You already know to check statements for charges you don't recognize, but it also makes sense to check for payments or refunds. Anything you did not expect to find is worth investigating.

Set up Automatic Payments

Automatic payments can assure you that you won't get dinged with a late fee, but if you have a much higher than usual balance and not enough funds in your checking account to pay in full, you could end up overdrawing your account. That's worth considering before you decide to automate paying the statement in full.

The Bottom Line

It can be annoying to accidentally overpay a credit card bill, but it won't affect your credit. And the credit card issuer is required to return the overpayment, so you won't be out the money, either. This can be accomplished either with a check or deposit to your bank account, or through using the overpayment to cover new charges.

An interest in your credit report and score, though, can serve you well. A good or excellent score can give you access to credit cards with the best perks and rewards. Checking your credit can also alert you to potential fraud or identity theft. You can keep an eye on your credit for free with Experian's credit monitoring and see for yourself how your credit behaviors affect your score.