Paying With Credit? App Shows You The True Cost

(Android-only) Inspired by our coverage, Consumerist reader Rick came up with a nifty app to show you the true long-term cost of putting that latte on the credit card.

The free, ad-supported app lets you punch in your purchase and see how long it will take you to pay it off if you put it on your credit card. You can customize by your interest rate and your bank’s minimum payment formula, or just use the default one provided by the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

The developer writes:

Earlier this year you posted an article on a website that calculates the real cost of credit cards.

Inspired by that post, and as a way of learning Android development, I wrote a little Android app that I put in the Android marketplace for free.

My intent was to provide a quick and simple tool that would be easy to use when you’re about to make a purchase. I know that many people maintain running balances, and my hope is that when they’re about to make a purchase for a discretionary item that they’ll make the decision informed of the real out-of-pocket cost.

Nifty! One more step to making more informed purchases, and, potentially, one step closer to paying in cash.

Credit Cost [Handster]
Credit Cost [Android Marketplace]


Edit Your Comment

  1. wrjohnston91283 says:

    potentially, one step closer to paying in cash.

    Why is paying is cash a goal? I’d rather pay with a credit card, get the protections, rewards and grace period it allows, than carry around cash.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I think Ben was trying to infer that if you are carrying a balance, you should work toward using cash instead of credit cards, as they have proven to be a problem (hence, the balance).

      If you don’t carry a balance, the app wouldn’t be helpful anyway.

  2. OSAM says:

    This is assuming minimum payments. Most consumerist readers dont do that. Dumb app.

    • cyberpenguin says:

      Inspired by consumerist article != intended for majority of consumerist readers

    • nbs2 says:


      Between my comfort with asserting that Consumerist does not have readership anywhere close to the entire adult population of the United States and reports indicating that that average person does carry a balance on their credit card (average household debt is $15,788 as of March 2010 according to citing from the Federal Reserve’s May 2010 report), I’d say that the app has a sizable market.

      You may not agree with the posting of this story on consumerist (even though drawing attention to folks with balances, who may have come here looking to learn how to be smarter consumers, falls within the mission of the site), but this is not a “dumb app.” At the very least, it is smarter than your comment.

    • zumdish says:

      I also 1. Use a CC for everything and 2. Pay off the balance every month. But my card is issued by BoA and of the half-dozen times I’ve had to contact customer service, every experience has been outstandingly positive. How many Consumerist readers have THAT??!!

  3. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    I pay for almost everything with my debit card or cash. I do have a credit card I received in college that I use for building credit (after I finally paid it off). I just buy gas on it and pay it off entirely every month.

    I want to get rid of the cursed thing, but I really need to build credit if I want to be a homeowner one day…

  4. Metjohnson says:

    What about those of us that pay our credit cards in full each month?

  5. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Does it calculate my rewards points? If not, it’s not a true cost estimate.

  6. areaman says:

    I’m sure the app is helpful. But giving sound information to people who have out of control behavior doesn’t change their behavior.

  7. human_shield says:

    My minimum payment is 100%. I don’t have rewards on my card and could care less, but a CC is way more convenient than a wad of paper and a pocket full of metal discs. I hate cash.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I’m just curious…why don’t you want rewards for your card? I get 2% on each purchase. Every year the company gives me a few hundred dollars just for using the card.

      • dangermike says:

        Such rational response from such an irrational number. ;)

        I agree, and I’ll add that if you get the Costco American Express, there’s no annual membership fee. Even if you don’t shop at Costco, that’s $40/year for what amounts to 1.5%-2.5% cash back depending on your spending habits. I use my rebate to re-up my membership each year and then apply the rest to tires or electronics (or comically oversized bottles of booze)

  8. ElleAnn says:

    I can afford to pay my full balance every month, in part because I don’t have a smart phone with a $100 a month data plan.

  9. damageinc says:

    If anything my “true” long term cost is actually less then what the item cost…

  10. PLATTWORX says:

    There is no reason to pay cash. I used credit cards for everything, earn rewards on ever dollar and pay the balance in full every month. Why would you need this app if you CORRECTLY used credit cards?

    • cyberpenguin says:

      Because there are a lot of people that don’t correctly use credit cards.

      The purpose of the app is more about consumer awareness than financial planning.

  11. hansolo247 says:

    Does the app show the true cost of credit for me?

    1% cash back, plus 50 days of earnings on an alternate investment?

    Thus, for me, $100 on credit costs less than $99.