Finance

Avoid Credit Card Late Fee Nightmares

If not used responsibly, credit cards may come back to haunt you.

Apr 21, 2014

Credit cards can be a valuable financial tool. You can use them to help build a credit score, to take advantage of rewards and to have peace of mind when traveling. The Credit Card Act of 2009 capped these charges at $25, but they can add up if you frequently pay late. If you’re worried about late payment fees, consider the following strategies to help avoid such charges:

Set Up Automatic Payments

If you are worried about forgetting to make a payment, consider automating the process. According to Credit.com, most providers allow account holders to automatically deduct their monthly payments from a checking or savings account. Generally, this can be set up for the minimum payment or a specified amount. Check with your card issuer for details on company policies, as they can vary by provider.

Change the Payment Due Date

You may face certain situations that could put you in a position where you are unable to make a credit card payment. For example, if your car breaks down and it needs to be repaired to stay on the road, money may be short that month.In these instances, call your provider and ask for the payment due date to be changed, according to CreditCards.com. There is no guarantee this request will be granted, but it is worth a try. If allowed, you could benefit from aligning your due dates with your pay day. This can help ensure you always have the funds needed to pay your bills.

Sign Up for Email and Text Reminders

One of the most common causes of missed payments is forgetfulness. A good option for you to avoid such a situation is to sign up for email and text message (SMS)  reminders. Most providers allow account holders to get this service through an online portal by simply entering their email addresses or phone number. You may be able to set a time or date for when these messages will be received. It is recommended to get them a few days in advance of a due date to prevent any last minute scrambling to get a payment posted.

Keep Spending in Check

Forgetfulness isn’t the only reason people miss payments. Some credit card holders simply don’t have the money on their due date. To help avoid this situation, consider keeping your spending balanced with your income. For example, one expense that could be reduced is coffee. People who purchase a cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks daily could save nearly $1,000 per year if they begin to brew their own cup at home. That’s money that could be put toward paying off your outstanding credit card balance. Late fees are only one part of the credit card management equation you should consider when adding a credit card to your personal finance management strategy.

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