The time between the monthly closing date and payment due date, or the grace period, has been steadily shrinking over the past decade from 27.8 days to 20.6 days. The “grace period” is also jokingly referred to as the time during which you pray to come up with the funds to make the payment. For Americans who pay-off their credit cards in-full each month, the “grace period” is technically an interest-free period. Savvy consumers can maximize the interest-free period by charging purchases immediately after the close of the billing cycle, extending the grace period to as much as 40 days, or in some rare cases, up to 60 days. However, milking the grace period by submitting a payment at the last possible moment can be dangerous. Slow mail delivery can make a payment post late, thereby triggering interest charges and late fees. A last minute online payment can cost a special fee. MBNA and Chase now charge cardholders about $15 to post a same-day payment. In most cases an online payment has to be scheduled a few days in advance to post on time. Payments delivered via express delivery services can take more time to post than a snail mail payment. If you pay-off each month, take advantage of grace periods by charging early in the cycle rather than playing it close to the wire with the payment due date. That way you can avoid praying that the payment will post on time.