Credit cards make it easy to pay for purchases both in person and online. Just swipe your card or enter your information, and the transaction is covered. Plus, rather than having to part with your money immediately, you get a grace period before the bill is due.
On the downside, the convenience and rewards can easily be undone by late fees, high interest rates and damage to your credit report if you fail to pay your bill on time. Credit card companies are allowed to charge a late payment penalty up to $27 the first time you pay late, and up to $38 if you make another late credit card payment within the next six billing cycles. So you can avoid wasting money on expensive penalties, learn how you can avoid credit card fees.
5 Ways to Avoid Credit Card Late Fees
Missing a payment or making a late payment is not only dangerous for your credit score, it’s also a costly misstep. Here are five things you can do so you don’t have to pay a credit card late fee:
1. Pay Early
Pay at least the minimum amount due, and make sure your payment reaches the credit card company by the due date. Leave plenty of time for the company to process your payment if you mail in a check to pay your bill. It’s important to allow some processing time even if you use the credit card issuer’s website to pay your bill online. To be safe, schedule the online payment two to three days in advance.
2. Sign Up for Reminders
Few things are more frustrating than having to pay late fees when you had the money sitting in your checking account and you simply forgot to send in your payment. To help you remember, sign up for payment reminders from your credit card company. Discover, for example, will send you texts and emails to remind you that your minimum payment is due, and it’ll let you know when your payment has posted.
3. Use Auto Pay
Better yet, sign up for auto payments. You can link your credit card to your checking account so that payments will be made without you having to schedule them. You can usually choose from options like making just the minimum payment, paying a specific dollar amount, or paying your balance in full each month. Consider opting for the minimum payment if you’re not sure you’ll always be able to pay your bill in full, and then adjust the payment upwards as you’re able to pay more. Alternatively, pay your bill in full each month to eliminate interest charges as well as late fees.
4. Change Your Credit Card Due Date
Some credit cards allow you to change your due date. This can be very helpful if you find yourself paying late fees because you’ve already spent your paycheck by the time your credit card bill comes due. Your new due date should align with your financial schedule. For example, if you get paid on the first and 15th days of each month and you pay your rent at the start of the month, consider changing your credit card due date to the 17th to help ensure that you’ll have enough money in your account to cover the payment.
When the main problem is remembering when the bill is due, you might avoid late fees by choosing a new due date that coincides with another important bill, like your rent or mortgage payment, or is easy to remember, like the first or last day of the month.
5. Ask for the Fee to Be Waived
In the event you do slip up and miss a payment, all is not lost. Call your credit card company and ask for the fee to be waived. The company might comply the first time you pay late, according to Discover. But if you’re lucky enough to have your late fee waived, don’t make a habit of paying late. Not only will the fee be less likely to be waived next time, but the late payment might damage your credit history and reduce your credit score.