Calculating Credit Card Payments

How do I figure out my payment on the credit card?

Your credit card payment is:

Total Account Balance (the total amount you owe)


Pre-YNAB Debt Category Balance (the amount you can’t afford to pay)



Your Payment (the amount you’ve budgeted to send them)

Before the formula will work, however, you first need to use Rule 3 to clear out any overspending. Otherwise, you might send money to the credit card company that needs to cover other expenses in your budget.

Example:  You originally budgeted $250 towards your groceries category, then spent $100, leaving you with $150 remaining. But you go grocery shopping and spend $175 with your MasterCard, $25 more than you had in that category.

In the account you see this:


The balance on the MasterCard has gone up. However, in the budget you see this:

YNAB is telling you that you don’t have that $25 for groceries.  If you don’t correct this with Rule 3, one of two things could happen:

  • You may overdraft your checking account. If you send the money to the credit card company anyway, and spend down all your category balances, you will overdraft by $25.
  • If you don’t send the credit card company enough to cover this, you are going further into debt.

So before calculating your payment, look through your budget for overspending and use Rule Three to correct it.  In this example, we’ll move $25 from the fun money category to cover it:

Then use the formula to figure out how much you can send.  In the first screenshot on this page, we see a total account balance of $865:

The Pre-YNAB debt category balance is $390.

$865 - $390 = $475

That’s how much we can send them.  That covers $275 of grocery spending and $200 that was budgeted toward the Pre-YNAB debt.

How do I record the payment to the credit card?

To record this payment, click “make a transfer” in the account you’re paying from.  Choose the account you’re sending the money to in the drop down menu.


In this case, you’re making a payment of $475 from your checking account.


You’ll see the same transfer transaction in the other account:

Why doesn’t my payment show up on the budget screen?


When you spend money from your budget, you give it a category to let the budget know about the spending. Categorization represents spending.

All the spending on your credit card already happened and was categorized in the budget, either as PreYNAB Debt or some other category like groceries. So this transfer won’t have a category. So you aren’t spending from the budget when you make a credit card payment, you are simply moving money to the credit card account to pay back the money you borrowed.  

Think of it this way: You already bought the stuff and the budget knows that.  You can’t buy the groceries again.  Think of your credit card as a friend who walks around with you making all your purchases for you.  Those purchases have been recorded.  At this point, you’re simply paying back your friend.

You know you made the payment when the account balance matches the Pre-YNAB debt category balance.


Learn how to handle new debt.