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- If you don’t pay your credit card bill on time, a late fee will appear on your statement the next month.
- The average credit card late fee is $26, and late fees account for more than half of all consumer charges.
- If you accidentally paid your bill late, here are three steps you can take to get a waiver of your credit card late payment fee.
When used responsibly, credit cards have numerous benefits for borrowers. You’ll get extra protection against credit card fraud, and some cards come with cash back rewards. But if you miss a payment, you’ll be charged a late fee (although some credit cards don’t charge late fees).
If you get stuck with a credit card late fee, Louis J. Schoeman, director and financial expert at Forex Suggest, recommends trying to have it removed as soon as possible. He says that most credit card companies are surprisingly understanding. “In most cases, they’ll quit if it’s the first time,” he explains.
How Credit Card Late Fees Work
Your credit card company issues a late payment fee if you can’t make the minimum monthly payment by the due date. The exact fee depends on the card issuer, but most charge a flat fee.
A late fee will appear on your credit card statement the following month. The late fee increases your total balance and you will have to pay interest on that fee. Some credit card companies offer grace periods, which is a period of time within which payment can be delayed without a late fee.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the average late fee is $26 per late payment. Late fees account for 99% of penalty charges and more than half of all usage charges.
How late payments can hurt you
It’s important to get into the habit of paying your bills on time because late payments can negatively affect you. “How late fees can affect you really depends on your circumstances and the agreement you have,” says Schoeman.
If your payment is only a day or two late, you will receive a late payment fee. Some credit card companies have tiered late fees, which means the fee is based on your balance. For example, the first late fee may be $20, but subsequent late fees may increase.
If your payment is more than 30 days late, your credit card issuer will report the late payment to the major credit bureaus. Schoeman says that your overall credit profile will determine how much it affects your credit score.
And if your payment is more than 60 days late, your credit card company may issue a penalty APR. For example, if your regular APR is 18.24%, you could receive a penalty APR of 29.99%.
Schoeman says that one thing many people don’t realize is that late payments can thwart any promotions you’ve received with the card. “This is especially important if you’ve purchased an interest-free credit card because a late payment can void that interest-free period.”
How to Get Waived from Credit Card Late Fees
Things happen, and even the most responsible borrower can occasionally delay their credit card payment. But depending on the circumstances, some credit card issuers will waive late fees. If you accidentally paid your credit card late and received a late payment fee, here are some steps you can take.
1. Pay your bill right away
If you haven’t made your payment, the first step you should take is to pay your bill right away. Leaving your credit card bill unpaid for too long can damage your credit and cause more significant financial problems down the road. Also, your issuer will be more willing to work with you if they can see that you took care of the problem quickly.
2. Check if you have received a late fee
Next, you want to verify that you received a late fee. You can check your credit card statement to see if your lender charged you a late fee. You’ll also be able to see if you received a penalty APR or lost access to credit card rewards.
3. Contact your credit card issuer
Schoeman recommends contacting your credit card issuer and explaining the situation. There are many scenarios where late payment is understandable and your credit card issuer may be willing to work with you.
“If you’re self-employed and a customer made a late payment or you’ve had health problems, chances are the credit card company will sympathize with you and waive any charges,” he explains.
Apologize for the late fee and explain why it happened. Be sure to highlight your track record as a good customer and ask if they would be willing to waive the fee.
Ways to avoid credit card late fees
Your credit card issuer may be willing to waive the late payment fee for a one-time event. But they’ll be less willing to work with you if you’re routinely late on your bill. Here are some ways you can avoid credit card late fees in the future:
- Check your budget: Start by looking at your monthly budget and assessing whether you can afford to make your minimum payments each month. You’ll have to find ways to trim in other areas if you can’t.
- Set payment reminders: If you’re having trouble remembering to pay your bills on time, you can set payment reminders on your phone. That way, you’ll always know when a next payment is due.
- Automate your payments: When you automate your monthly payments, you don’t have to remember to log in and pay your bill. You can do this by logging into your account and turning on the auto pay feature.
- Set your payment due date: If your payment falls at an inconvenient time, for example a few days before payday, you can contact your issuer and ask them to adjust your due date.
The bottom line
It’s easy to forget your payment due date and pay your credit card bill late. Fortunately, if you have a history of paying on time, you can contact your issuer and request a waiver of credit card late fees.
However, you want to look into strategies to avoid late payments in the future. Reviewing your budget, adjusting your due date, and setting up automatic payment will help you avoid late fees and the financial consequences that come with them.