A billing cycle is an interval between bills for products and services. Typically, this interval lasts for one month, and consumers may be able to adjust the timing of their bills to meet their economic needs, depending on the company. These cycles are used to calculate things like interest and account standing, and they are an important part of the financial world.
In the example of services, a company like an cell phone provider might start offering service on the sixth of the month, and bill on the sixth of each month after that. Each bill will include a note specifying which cycle is covered by the bill, so that consumers can understand when and why various charges might have been incurred. Products may be billed in a similar way; a consumer may be given 30 days to pay for something, for example, and many retailers rely on a credit system with the wholesalers who send them products.
Many people are also familiar with the concept in terms of financial accounts like credit cards. In the case of a credit card, consumers are charged interest on outstanding transactions from past cycles, and they may be charged for failing to pay on an account in a timely fashion, or paying less than the minimum. People should keep a close eye on credit card billing cycles, since they can sometimes change without notice, causing consumers to incur unexpected financial charges.
In some cases, a company will adjust its billing cycle to meet the needs of clients. If, for example, someone gets paid on the first of the month, he or she may request a cycle that runs from the 15th through the 15th, to ensure that bills can be paid on time. The period between billings may also be adjusted to meet the needs of bookkeepers and other company staff who specialize in financial matters for large companies, to ensure that financial staff are not swamped with bills at any particular period of the month.
Individuals who are trying to pay down debt and keep their bills organized should consider synchronizing their billing cycles to a day that is convenient. This can ensure that people never miss a bill, because they can pay their bills all at once. It may also help keep the person's finances organized, because he or she can keep track of the lump sum required to pay all the bills, rather than paying them sporadically throughout the month as they arrive.