Avoiding Late Fees: A Comprehensive Guide to Timely Credit Card Payments

profile Brett Holzhauer  |  September 27, 2023

Credit card late fees are a costly expense to missing your payment date. In fact, the CFPB last year said Americans are spending $120 billion each year in fees and interest to credit card companies.

These fees can quickly add up if you fall behind on your payments, and cost you hundreds in unnecessary costs. However, in the off case that you may miss a payment here or there, there are ways you may be able to recover some of these fees.

Here’s everything you need to know about late fees.

Understanding credit card late fees

Credit card late fees are charges imposed by credit card companies when a cardholder fails to make the minimum required payment by the due date. These fees can vary from one issuer to another and can range from around $25 to $40 or more.

And these late fees could potentially snowball into large interest penalties as well, so it’s always best to pay your credit card bills on time. Of course, life happens, and you may miss a payment or two along the way. Don’t fret, there are ways to avoid these fees, and also potentially get a refund if you happen to get dinged with a credit card late payment fee.

How to avoid a credit card late fee, and potentially get it waived

The simple way to avoid a credit card late fee is to set up automatic payments through your credit card provider. This can typically be done by visiting your credit card issuer’s website and setting up your payment date each month. This is the best way to avoid any late fees and ensure that your bill is paid on time each month. And if you need to adjust which day you paid your credit card bill, you can call your issuer to adjust which day works best for you.

However, if you happen to incur a credit card late payment fee, there is a potential to have it erased. Here’s what you can do:

  • Call the customer service hotline
  • Politely explain that you accidentally missed a payment, and that you can make your payment now, and ask for your late fee to be waived as a courtesy.

More times than not, they will say yes as they want to keep you as a happy customer.

Tips to avoid missing credit card payments

If you’ve missed a credit card payment for the first time, don’t sweat it. It’s likely that you can get it waived with a simple phone call. However, it’s unlikely for card issuers to give this waiver multiple times. And multiple missed payments could reflect poorly on your credit score. So consider these tips to help you avoid repeating the same mistake.

Set up payment reminders

Set up payment reminders on your smartphone, use calendar apps, or even utilize automatic reminders from your credit card issuer. This way, you'll receive notifications well before the due date, ensuring you never miss a payment.

Enroll in auto-pay

Auto-pay is a powerful tool that can save you from ever experiencing a late fee. Set up auto-payments for at least the minimum due amount. While this won't eliminate the need to manage your finances, it serves as a safety net, ensuring you won't incur late fees even if you forget the due date.

Organize your finances

Create a system to manage your finances effectively. Keep track of your credit card balances, due dates, and payment history using spreadsheets or budgeting apps. Having a clear overview of your financial commitments will help you stay on top of your payments, and work towards becoming financially healthy.

Choose due dates that work best for you

If your credit card issuer allows it, consider changing your due date to a time when you are most likely to have funds available. Aligning your due date with your paydays can make it easier to ensure timely payments.

Have an established emergency fund

Life is unpredictable, and unexpected expenses can sometimes leave you short of cash. And many Americans are having trouble putting anything away in their savings, leaving them vulnerable if a life event happens. Establish an emergency fund to cover such situations, ensuring you always have the means to meet your credit card obligations even during challenging times.

Turn on payment alerts

Many credit card issuers offer payment alert services via email or text messages. These alerts can serve as an additional layer of defense against missed payments by giving you a gentle nudge as the due date approaches.

Consolidate your credit cards

If you have multiple credit cards, managing their due dates can be challenging. Consider consolidating your balances onto a single card or reducing the number of cards you use to streamline your payments and decrease the likelihood of missing any.

The bottom line

Credit card late fees are avoidable financial pitfalls that can derail your financial plans and tarnish your credit history. By implementing strategies like setting up payment reminders, enrolling in auto-pay, and staying organized, you can effectively steer clear of late fees and their negative consequences. Remember, responsible credit card usage not only helps you maintain financial stability but also contributes to building a strong credit profile that opens doors to better financial opportunities. Take control of your credit card payments today, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with mastering this essential aspect of personal finance.

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