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Grace period

By Konstantin Vasilev Member of the Board of Directors of Cbonds, Ph.D. in Economics
Updated July 1, 2023

What Does Grace Period Mean?

A grace period refers to a specified duration after the designated deadline, allowing payment to be made without any penalties. A grace period is often included in various financial agreements, such as mortgage loans and insurance contracts. Instead of specifying a fixed number of days like 15, grace periods may vary in length depending on the terms and conditions.

During the grace period, individuals can avoid paying interest or additional charges for late payments. This provision is particularly common in credit card agreements where credit card companies provide grace periods ranging from one to three billing cycles. Similarly, federal student loans and certain loan payments, such as those for mortgages or car loans, may also offer a grace period before charging interest begins.

For instance, when it comes to monthly health insurance payments, a grace period can be provided before the due date, usually lasting one to two billing cycles. In the context of credit cards, the due date refers to the specific day by which the payment should be made to avoid late fees or accruing interest.

How Grace Periods Work

A grace period provides borrowers or insurance customers a short extension beyond the due date to delay payment. During this period, no late fees are imposed, and the delay does not result in default or cancellation of the loan or contract.

One significant advantage of the grace period is avoiding paying interest. By making payments within this period, borrowers can prevent the accumulation of additional charges. Credit card grace periods, for example, allow cardholders to delay interest charges on new purchases for a certain number of billing cycles.

Grace periods are also applicable to mortgage or car loans and monthly health insurance payments. They provide a buffer between the payment due date and the start of interest accrual or other penalties. It’s worth noting that the duration of grace periods can vary depending on the specific agreement or institution.

In terms of credit cards, credit card issuers typically determine the length of the grace period. This provision is outlined in the credit card agreement, allowing cardholders to make payments without incurring late fees or being charged interest. The credit card bill issued by the card company specifies the payment due date, after which late fees and interest charges may apply.

A grace period is often provided for student loans after borrowers leave school or drop below half-time enrollment. No payments are required during this period, and interest charges may be temporarily suspended. Grace periods vary for different types of student loans, but they serve as a helpful component in managing repayment plans.

Grace periods operate as a practical aspect of personal finance, offering temporary relief and flexibility. They allow borrowers to avoid penalties and additional fees by taking advantage of the specified time period before payments are due. By understanding the terms and conditions of grace periods, individuals can effectively manage their finances and make timely payments to avoid negative impacts on their credit reports.

Which loans have a grace period?

Grace periods are frequently found in installment loans, including federal student loans, where a grace period of six months is granted after departing from school. Similarly, car loans and mortgages commonly provide a grace period that extends up to 15 days.

In credit cards, the grace period is a temporary period, usually ranging from 21 to 30 days, starting from the billing cycle’s closing date. During this time, if the cardholder pays the entire outstanding balance by the due date, no interest will be applied to the purchases made within that billing cycle. The grace period provides cardholders with a convenient window to settle their balances without incurring additional costs, encouraging responsible and timely payments. However, it’s essential for individuals to carefully review their credit card terms and conditions, as not all cards offer a grace period, particularly for cash advances and balance transfers, where interest may be charged immediately.

Grace Period vs. Deferment

In a manner similar to grace periods, a deferment represents a designated timeframe when borrowers are not obligated to make loan payments, typically utilized in situations of financial hardship. Unlike grace periods, deferment is typically not automatic, requiring borrowers to proactively request or apply for a deferment and provide supporting documentation demonstrating their inability to make payments. It’s important to note that interest continues to accrue on most loans during a deferment period, highlighting the significance of making any payments feasible during this period.

The accumulation of interest during a deferment or grace period hinges on the specific terms outlined in the loan agreement. To mitigate potential additional costs in the future, it is advisable to continue making payments to the best of your ability during these periods.


Suppose a consumer holds a mortgage or car loan with a monthly due date set on the fifth of each month. Thanks to a five-day grace period specified in the contract, the borrower can make the payment as late as the 10th of the month without facing any penalties. This scenario exemplifies a loan grace period within a mortgage or car loan.

In the case of credit card purchases, a credit card grace period was introduced following the implementation of the Credit Card Act of 2009. Prior to the enactment of this consumer protection law, some lenders began charging interest on purchases immediately after they were made.

Even if a consumer paid off a new purchase in full before the next payment date, interest would be charged even before receiving the bill. The act includes a provision that mandates credit card issuers, such as the credit card company or card issuer, to offer a grace period of at least 21 days for the borrower to repay the charge without incurring any interest charges on the purchase.

It is important to note that this grace period may not necessarily apply to cash advances or balance transfers, as these transactions are subject to the terms outlined in the credit card agreement. Care should be taken to understand the specific terms associated with these financial transactions, including interest rates, monthly payments, and potential additional interest.

Whether it’s a mortgage, car loan, or credit card, understanding the grace period and the payment due date is essential to avoid late fees, report late payments, and prevent the accrual of interest on purchases. Accepting grace periods and making timely payments can help borrowers manage their financial obligations effectively.


  • What is the purpose of the grace period?

  • Does the 10-day grace period affect your credit?

  • What is another word for a grace period?

  • How long can a grace period be?

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