Billing Cycle | B2B Finance Glossary
What is a Billing Cycle?
A billing cycle is the length of time from the end of one billing statement date to the next billing statement date. The billing statement includes the cost of goods and/or services that a business provides to another business or regularly provides to a consumer.
Billing cycles typically recur on a monthly basis. Still, their durations can vary depending on the product or service rendered or the billing preferences of the company offering those products and/or services.
Why are Billing Cycles Important?
Billing cycles are important for businesses because they contribute to helping companies figure out when to charge customers. They also allow businesses to estimate the revenue they will receive during any given period. Billing cycles are essential to assisting AR teams. They provide them with more insight into how they can best monitor the amount of revenue that’s still outstanding and help businesses estimate their future revenue.
Billing cycles are also important for credit cardholders because, if these holders understand how they work, they can be used to increase credit scores. A typical credit card billing cycle usually lasts 28 to 31 days, depending on the card issuer. It’s also important to remember that billing cycles can fluctuate every month since there are different amounts of days in each month.
Each cardholder’s monthly billing statement includes credit card billing cycles and lengths. They can be determined by counting the days between the opening and closing dates.
Most credit card issuers report cardholders’ account information on a monthly basis to the 3 major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. All new purchases, balance transfers, and any additional account activity that occurs in each billing cycle will be sent to at least 1 of the 3 bureaus. This new information will be used to determine a cardholder’s credit score.
What are Some Examples of Products or Services that use Billing Cycles?
- Apartment complexes, credit card companies, financial institutions, and recurring products and services offer different billing cycles. Cell phones, TV providers, and SaaS products also operate on billing cycles.
- Apartment complexes and mortgages usually have billing cycles that start on the first or fifteenth of every month, depending on when the lease was signed or when the first mortgage payment began.
- Other companies can offer rolling billing cycles, which allow each customer’s billing cycle to align when they first start receiving the product or service.
- Depending on the industry, it can be possible for customers to request a specific date for their billing period each month.
Why is it Important to Know the Length of Your Billing Cycle?
If you’re a customer, it’s important to understand how billing cycles, statement balances, due dates, and grace periods operate so you can make smart decisions about how and when to use your credit card or make important payments on time. For example, suppose you know when your billing cycle is set to end. In that case, you can properly budget for your upcoming bills and even avoid interest by paying them in full before they accumulate interest.
If you’re a business, it’s also critical to understand the length of billing cycles so you can keep track of when your customers are set to pay you. That way, you can better plan your company’s revenue and more accurately project cash flow for the future. Additionally, predicting cash flow properly can help companies avoid insolvency because they always know if they are spending more than they bring.
Can the Length of a Billing Cycle be Changed?
The length of your billing cycle will likely be congruent with industry norms. Still, it’s important to note that business owners have the ability to either shorten or lengthen billing cycles in ways that help them better manage the flow of revenue or accommodate different customers in case their creditworthiness changes. For example, suppose a retail store owner continues to make late payments to her wholesaler. In that case, the wholesaler might adjust the billing cycle length and shorten it from a month to 2 weeks to better accommodate the store owner’s continuous late payments.
On the other hand, a SaaS company’s customer might ask if it’s possible to lengthen the billing cycle because it’s more convenient for them. Usually, if the customer is in good standing with the company, the billing cycle can be changed to accommodate the customer’s needs.