How to Get a Late Fee Waived on Your Credit Card
If you're past due on your monthly credit card balance, your lender may offer flexibility on the late fee.
July 9, 2022
Did you know that 42 million Americans are expected to miss a credit card due date in 2022? Missing a monthly payment can trigger late fees and penalty APRs. Fortunately, some credit card issuers offer flexibility regarding missed payments.
In this article, we’ll cover how to get a late fee waived on your credit card and walk you through the steps you can take. We’ll also give you tips to help prevent late payments in the future.
The downsides of late credit card payments
Imagine the following: Your credit card payment is due on the 15th of the month. However, your son has the championship soccer game that day, and your daughter has a big math test. On top of that, your parents are visiting this weekend, which means you need to clean the house.
In this chaos, you forget to make the minimum payment due on your credit card account, which completely slips your mind until the following billing statement. At this point, you realize your oversight and pay your entire credit card balance.
No big deal, right?
Unfortunately, a late credit card payment has some downsides. Your credit card issuer will charge a late payment fee, which may be as much as $29 the first time you miss a due date. This may seem inconsequential, but the charge can increase with each missed payment. Plus, your lender adds the late fee to your total balance, which is subject to interest charges.
Your lender may enact a penalty APR, raising your interest rate. If you are in the middle of a promotional period, you will no longer be eligible for lower interest rates. Finally, your card issuer can lower your credit limit, lowering your borrowing ability.
Once your account is past due by 30 days or more, your lender reports it to the three major credit bureaus. This information stays on your credit report for seven years and could impact your ability to:
Get a mortgage or rent an apartment
Secure a loan
Buy a car
Open a new credit card
Not only will it appear in the payment history section of your credit report, but the missed payment could also lower your credit score. Payment history is a significant factor in your credit score, accounting for roughly 35% of the total score.
The good news is that there are some things you can do to correct the situation before it hits your credit report and your lender enacts penalties. Let's take a closer look at how to get a late fee waived.
Can late fees be forgiven?
Yes. While it isn’t a guarantee, credit card companies can choose to forgive late fees under certain circumstances. Follow the steps below to try to get your late payment fee removed.
How to get a late fee waived in 3 steps
You can request late fee forgiveness by verifying the late fee hit your account, calling customer service to explain the situation and agreeing to pay your balance.
Step 1: Verify the late fee
Before you worry about how to get a credit card late fee waived, make sure that there is one on your statement in the first place.
If you want to be proactive about its impact on your credit report, consider contacting your credit card company. This may result in waiving the late fee, especially if you’re only late by a day or two and the fee hasn’t been charged to your account yet.
Step 2: Call customer service
Next, call the credit card company and talk to a customer service rep to explain the situation. During this call, highlight that you’re a good customer who routinely makes payments on time and that this was a one-off situation while being respectful of the rep and asking politely.
The stronger your on-time payment history is, the more likely your credit card company will waive the late fee. Lenders will be less flexible with cardholders with a history of missing monthly payments. Credit card companies won't make a habit of waiving late fees, and you shouldn't expect them to do so more than once.
Step 3: Pay your bill immediately
Consider paying your bill immediately if you notice that your credit card issuer has charged you a late fee. Doing so will keep interest charges from accruing and limit the damage to your credit score.
Following these steps can increase your odds of having the fee removed, especially if this is the first time.
How to prevent late fees on future billing cycles
If you were charged a late fee for the first time and managed to get it waived by your credit card company, there are steps to take to keep from missing payments in the future. Below are three ways to make timely payments and avoid late fees on credit cards.
Set up automatic payments or notifications
It's easy to lose sight of your credit card payment due date. Setting up autopay can help with this. One way is to connect your credit card to your bank account, setting it up so that you automatically make the minimum payment each month.
With this option, remember that you’ll need enough money in your bank account to cover the payment. Otherwise, your credit card payment won't go through, which could trigger the late fee you’re trying to avoid. On top of that, your bank may charge you an overdraft fee as well.
To help prevent this, you can try:
Autopay: Setting the autopay date for a few days before the bill is due will give you a buffer to ensure you don't miss the payment. And, if you see this money come out of your checking account, it may serve as a reminder to check your credit card balance to determine if you can pay it in full.
Notifications: If you don't feel comfortable setting up autopay, another option is enrolling in notifications from your credit card company. Notifications via text or email reminding you of your balance due and due date may reduce the likelihood of missing a payment.
Calendar reminders: Similarly, setting up calendar notifications can be helpful. For example, let's say your bill is due on the 15th of every month. Setting a reminder in your calendar on the 10th of every month may help you remember to make the payment.
Open a balance transfer card
If you’re juggling minimum payments across multiple credit cards, you may want to consider opening a balance transfer card. These cards offer promotional APRs, giving you the incentive to transfer all your outstanding balances to the new card. Doing so can be an effective strategy to pay off debt.
It can also be an effective strategy to avoid missed payments. With a balance transfer card, you only have to worry about making one minimum payment per month instead of keeping track of multiple minimum payments. If you've missed payments in the past because you can't keep track of your different billing cycles, combining your balances on one card could help.
These cards typically come with a balance transfer fee, often between 3% to 5% of the total balance you're transferring onto the card. But paying this fee could be advantageous if it helps you make monthly payments on time and avoid late fees.
Using this strategy to pay off old credit cards can be successful if you no longer use them, so you aren’t adding more debt on top of what you moved to the balance transfer card. You should also aim to pay off the balance within the promotional window, or the debt could begin accruing interest again.
Use a credit card payoff app
Another way to avoid late fees is using a credit card payoff app like Tally†, which manages all of your credit cards, automatically making the minimum payments each month and ensuring that you don’t miss another due date.
Tally pays off your credit card debt efficiently, reducing interest charges.
Suppose you're someone who has had trouble managing multiple due dates or making minimum payments. In that case, a credit card payoff app like Tally can put your mind at ease about your personal finances.
Avoiding late fees and protecting your credit
Being charged a late fee on a credit card is common – unfortunately, life happens, and forgetting to make a minimum payment is easy. However, late payments can be harmful to your finances. And depending on how late the payment is, it could affect your credit report and credit score.
If your credit card issuer charges you a late fee, asking for a waiver can’t hurt. If you're a good customer and don’t have a history of missed payments, there’s a good chance that your credit card company will work with you.
Once you waive the late fee, consider steps to prevent future missed payments. Look at tools like autopay, notification alerts, balance transfer cards and credit card payoff apps like Tally to ensure you don't miss another payment.
†To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. The APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% and 29.99% per year and will be based on your credit history. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Annual fees range from $0 - $300.