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A billing cycle is the period of time between a company sending an invoice and sending the next invoice.
Any company that offers a repetitive service can bill on a cycle. This includes credit card issuers, utility providers, or any other subscription service.
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There is no fixed length for a billing cycle. Many companies use a monthly or 30-day billing cycle. The standard, though, is between 20 and 45 days.
Not every company will use the same billing cycle. The normal billing cycle can be different for each company you deal with.
In particular, there are variations around a month to watch out for. Many credit card companies, for example, use a billing cycle of 30 days. Accounting software services, like QuickBooks, use a calendar month.¹ Other companies may use a 28-day billing period.
If in doubt, you can usually find the payment due date on billing statements, such as a credit card statement.
A monthly billing cycle gives 12 evenly spaced bills per year. If the billing cycle is reduced below this, additional bills will be required.
A 28-day billing cycle, for example, will result in 13 bills. For example, a subscription service may charge by the week. This would lend itself better to a 28 day billing cycle rather than monthly. Customers, however, may not like the 28 day cycle as the billing dates vary and there is an extra billing cycle.
At the other extreme, what is the longest period that can be used for a billing cycle? There is, in fact, a definition for this under US law. The “Truth in Lending” regulations specify a maximum length of a quarter of a year.²
Two-cycle billing is also referred to as double-cycle billing. It is a balance computation method that allows companies to apply interest charges to two full billing cycles.
This was something that some credit card companies did to penalize early payment. Even if the customer paid a bill in full for one month, interest charges could still occur the following month under the terms of two-cycle billing.
Two-cycle billing is not permitted in the US since 2010. It is banned by the Credit Card Act of 2009.³
Some rules should be followed when setting billing dates. A monthly billing cycle could be set on the same day each month or a specific day, such as the last day of the month.
There is some flexibility in setting the date to allow for different month lengths, holidays, or weekends. According to US consumer regulations, the key is to ensure that the number of days in each cycle does not vary by more than four days. Cycles that meet this are considered equal.⁴
Now that you fully understand how long a billing cycle is, the next step is to make sure you get paid on time. If you have international customers, you will appreciate that this can be complicated.
For example, you can have a UK account number and sort code, even as a US citizen. This means that your UK customers can pay you in GBP without having to think about currencies and conversion. You can also add your Wise account details to invoices in QuickBooks to make it easy for customers to pay.
Easier payment means faster payment – whatever cycles and payment dates are used.
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|🤓 Other articles you’ll love:|
- Manage billing, payment, and subscription info in QuickBooks Online
- eCFR :: 12 CFR Part 1026 -- Truth in Lending (Regulation Z)
- Double-cycle billing definition | Glossary | CreditCards.com
- § 1026.2 Definitions and rules of construction. | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
All sources checked February 4, 2022.
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