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5 Things to Do if You Have a Negative Credit Card Balance

December 3, 2020

Did you log into your online banking account to find that you have a negative balance on your credit card? Your heart might have dropped for a moment — how could you have accrued this much debt? What does having a negative credit card balance even mean?

You can relax: having a negative credit card balance is not a bad thing. It does not mean that you owe the bank lots of money — the opposite, in fact.

That said, if you searched the internet for answers thinking that having a negative credit card balance is the same thing as having a negative bank account balance, we’ll discuss both situations and provide you with five pieces of advice to get out of debt.

Why is My Balance Negative?

If you have a legitimate negative credit card balance, that means your credit issuer owes you money. If you had a $100 balance on your statement but received a refund for $300, then your balance would read -$200. You didn’t do anything wrong, and you don’t have to pay up.

Refunds are a common reason why people’s credit card balances become negative (if they’ve paid off their previous statement balances, of course), but it may also happen due to canceled fees, removing fraudulent charges, or another reason. Your balance will return to zero if you contact your issuer and ask for your money back or choose to think of it as a kind of credit card prepayment. Remember, it’s not extra money; it was yours to begin with.

Negative credit card balances don’t affect your credit score. You aren’t earning money, either, but neither will your creditworthiness take a hit.

What if I Owe Money Instead?

If you’ve confused “negative credit card balance” with owing money, here are a few ways to get your bank account positive again:

Use a Financial App

Do you have trouble budgeting, or is your financial situation a bit of a mystery? Use a financial app like Mint, PocketGuard, or Peak to create a budget, stick to it, and achieve your financial goals. Some apps allow you to view all of your accounts from one place and keep track of your expenses and spending habits.

If you are good at budgeting, but delays in payroll make you short on cash anyway, you can use Earnin1 to improve your overall financial health. With Earnin, you can take advantage of the “Tip Yourself” feature, so you remember to save, and you can access up to $500 per pay period before payday (you pay the app back when your paycheck comes in), so you can pay your expenses on time without over-relying on credit.

Apply for a Balance Transfer

Consider applying for a balance transfer card with a 0% introductory rate. This measure allows you to transition your debt from one line of credit to another card with a different issuer (though there may be transfer fees, so do the math to make sure your current interest rate isn’t actually less expensive).

Negotiate with Credit Issuers

It never hurts to pick up the phone and just ask. Ask your credit issuer if they are willing to lower your interest rate, or if they are willing to let you switch cards. You might have a chance if you have a history of making your payments on time.

Do this for your bills, too. Many kinds of debt are more negotiable than you think, so call your healthcare provider to reduce medical bills, your insurance company, your internet service, your landlord, and other people if you want to pay less. It never hurts to try because the worst thing they can do is say no.

Pay More than the Minimum Payment

Yes, the minimum payment is all you are legally obligated to pay each month — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay more. Paying the minimum only ensures that you are stuck with your debt longer and thus owe more money over time thanks to interest. Pay whatever you have the budget for so that you can climb out of debt faster.

Prioritize Debts

Pay off your loans or debts with the highest interest rates first. Say you have two credit cards, one with 17% APR and another with 15%. Pay off the 17% debt first with as many funds as you have available and make the minimum payment on the other. The former credit card will cost you more money in the long-run due to accruing interest, so prioritize that one and keep up the pace with the second card once your other debt is gone.

Having a negative credit card balance is not bad, but a negative bank account balance definitely is. Either way, don’t panic — you don’t owe money in the first scenario, and there are ways to pay off debt in the latter.


Photo by Avery Evans on Unsplash

Please note, the material collected in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as or construed as advice regarding any specific circumstances. Nor is it an endorsement of any organization or Services.

1Disclaimer: Lightning Speed may not be available to all Community Members. Cash Outs may take up to thirty minutes, actual transfer speeds will depend on your bank connection. Restrictions and/or third party fees may apply, see Earnin.com/TOS for details.

2Disclaimer: Balance Shield cash out is subject to your available earnings and daily pay period max. Other restrictions and/or third party fees may apply. For more information visit earnin.com/TOS.

3NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Must be 18 years of age or older and a legal resident of the U.S. or DC. Games begin each Sunday starting 12/6/20 at 9:01 p.m. ET and end the following Monday at 9:00 p.m. ET with the last Game ending 12/19/21. To download the App, view the Official Rules, odds disclosures, prize details, and alternate means of entry, visit https://www.earnin.com/wewin/. Void where prohibited. $10,000,000 grand prize payable over 29 years. Sponsor: Activehours, Inc. (d/b/a Earnin ®), 200 Portage Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306.

4Disclaimer: Up to 2 days early is based on comparison with traditional banks. Exact timing is dependent on your employer's payroll policies. For more information on eligibility and requirements of Earnin Express, visit earnin.com/TOS.

5Source: Internal analysis conducted by Earnin on December 10, 2020.

1Restrictions on use of Services and/or third party fees may apply, see Earnin.com/ privacyandterms for details.

2Balance Shield cash out is subject to your available earnings and daily pay period max. Other restrictions and/or third party fees may apply. For more information visit Earnin.com/privacyandterms.

3Tip Yourself Account funds are held with Evolve Bank & Trust, Member FDIC and FDIC insured up to $250,000. Tip Yourself is a 0% APY and $0 monthly fee service. Other restrictions and/or third party fees may apply, see Earnin.com/privacyandterms for details.

1Lightning Speed may not be available to all Community Members. Cash Outs may take up to thirty minutes, actual transfer speeds will depend on your bank connection. Restrictions and/or third party fees may apply, see Earnin.com/TOS for details.

2Restrictions and/or third party fees may apply, see Earnin.com/TOS for details.

3Balance Shield cash out is subject to your available earnings and your daily pay period max. Other restrictions and/or third party fees may apply, see Earnin.com/TOS for details.

4NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Must be 18 years of age or older and a legal resident of the U.S. or DC. Games begin each Sunday starting 12/6/20 at 9:01 p.m. ET and end the following Monday at 9:00 p.m. ET with the last Game ending 12/19/21. To download the App, view the Official Rules, odds disclosures, prize details, and alternate means of entry, visit WeWin Game & Sweepstakes Official Rules. Void where prohibited. $10,000,000 grand prize payable over 29 years. Sponsor: Activehours, Inc. (d/b/a EarninⓇ), 200 Portage Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306.

5Tip Yourself Account funds are held with Evolve Bank & Trust, Member FDIC and FDIC insured up to $250,000. Tip Yourself is a 0% Annual Percentage Yield and $0 monthly fee service. Your Tip Yourself Account and any Tip Jars are not Savings Accounts. For more information/details visit earnin.com/tos.

6Up to two days early is based on comparison with traditional banks. Exact timing is dependent on your employer’s payroll policies. For more information on eligibility and requirements of Earnin Express, visit earnin.com/tos.

7Your Max on Earnin Express is up to 80% of your payroll or $1000, whichever is less. The 80% is dependent on you routing your full paycheck to Earnin Express. For more information on eligibility and requirements of Earnin Express, visit earnin.com/TOS.

8By using Cash Back Rewards (powered by Empyr) you allow participating merchants and/or card networks details of your transactions. For more information, see Earnin.com/tos.

9Learn how we collect and use your information by visiting our Privacy Policy.

1Disclaimer: Restrictions and/or third party fees may apply, see earnin.com/tos for more details. Lightning Speed may not be available to all Community Members. Cash Outs may take up to thirty minutes, actual transfer speeds will depend on your bank connection.

2Disclaimer: Lightning Speed may not be available to all Community Members. Cash Outs may take up to thirty minutes, actual transfer speeds will depend on your bank connection. Restrictions and/or third party fees may apply, see Earnin.com/TOS for details

3Disclaimer: Community Member must have had at least 1 successful debit with Earnin. Limit to 1 Max Boost per pay period. A boost will not adjust a Community member's daily max. Restrictions may apply, see earnin.com/tos for more details

*Disclaimer: Balance Shield cash out is subject toyour available earnings and daily pay period max.Other restrictions and/or thirdparty fees may apply. For more information visit earnin.com/TOS

1Restrictions may apply, see earnin.com/tos for more details. Tip Yourself Account funds are held with Evolve Bank & Trust, member FDIC and FDIC insured up to $250,000. Tip Yourself is a 0% Annual Percentage Yield and $0 monthly fee service. Your Tip Yourself Account and any Tip Jars are not Savings Accounts. For more information/details visit earnin.com/tos

2Disclaimer: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Must be 18 years of age or older and a legal resident of the U.S. or DC. Games begin each Sunday starting 12/6/20 at 9:01 p.m. ET and end the following Monday at 9:00 p.m. ET with the last Game ending 12/19/21. To download the App, view the Official Rules, odds disclosures, prize details, and alternate means of entry, visit https://www.earnin.com/wewin/game-rules/. Void where prohibited. $10,000,000 grand prize payable over 29 years. Sponsor: Activehours, Inc. (d/b/a Earnin), 200 Portage Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306.

3Disclaimer: Restrictions Apply. See earnin.com/tos for more information

*Disclaimer: Up to 2 days early is based on comparison with traditional banks. Exact timing is dependent on your employer's payroll policies. For more information on eligibility and requirements of Earnin Express, visit earnin.com/TOS.

**Disclaimer: Restrictions and/or third party fees may apply, see earnin.com/tos for more details. Lightning Speed may not be available to all Community Members. Cash Outs may take up to thirty minutes, actual transfer speeds will depend on your bank connection.

*(*) Internal analysis conducted by Earnin in January 2021, represents total users who Cashed Out at least once from January 1 to December 31, 2020.

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