A recent survey found that 47 million Americans expect to miss a credit card due date in 2021. Missing a monthly payment can trigger late fees and penalty APRs. Fortunately, credit card issuers offer some flexibility when it comes to 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 situation: 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 coming to visit 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. You completely forget about it until your next billing statement. At this point, you quickly realize your oversight, and you pay your entire credit card balance in full. 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 fee can increase with each missed payment. Plus, your lender adds the late fee to your total balance, where it is then subject to interest charges.
There may be other credit card fees and penalties associated with a missed payment as well. Your lender may enact a penalty APR, therefore raising your interest rate. If you are in the middle of a promotional period, you will no longer be eligible for lower interest rates. Your card issuer can also lower your credit limit, therefore 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 show up in the payment history section of your credit report, but also, the missed payment could 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, if you do miss a minimum payment, 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.
How To Get a Late Fee Waived
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 it’s not there but you want to be proactive about making sure that it’s not going to show up, contacting your credit card company may result in a waiver of 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.
If you notice that your credit card issuer has charged you a late fee, paying your bill immediately is recommended. Doing so will keep interest charges from accruing and will limit the damage done to your credit score.
Next, calling the credit card company and talking to a customer service rep to explain the situation may help. Some things to focus on during this call are highlighting that you’re a good customer who routinely makes payments on time and that this was a one-off situation, being respectful of the rep and asking politely. Following these steps can increase your odds of having the fee removed, especially if this is the first time that this has happened.
The stronger your payment history is, the more likely you will receive a waiver for the late fee. Lenders will be less flexible with cardholders who have 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.
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 of the best ways to avoid late fees on credit cards.
1. Setting Up Automatic Payments or Notifications
It’s easy to lose sight of when your credit card payment is due. 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, keep in mind that you’ll need to have 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, 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.
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 that remind you of your balance due and due date may reduce the likelihood that you miss a payment.
Similarly, setting up calendar notifications reminding you that your bill is due 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.
2. Opening 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 incentive to transfer all of 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 in the range of 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 credit card debt can be a successful one if the old credit cards are no longer used and, therefore, you aren’t adding more debt on top of what was moved to the balance transfer card.
3. Using 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 do not miss another due date.
Tally pays off your credit card debt in the most efficient way possible, reducing how much interest you’re charged. If you’re someone who has had trouble managing multiple due dates or making minimum payments, a credit card payoff app like Tally can put your mind at ease. Eighty-six percent of Tally users indicate that they feel less stressed about their personal finances as a result of using the app.
Avoiding Late Fees and Protecting Your Credit
Being charged a late fee on a credit card is common. Life happens, and forgetting to make a minimum payment isn’t hard to do. However, late payments can be harmful to your personal finances. And depending on how late the payment is, your credit report and credit score could be affected.
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 the late fee has been waived, consider steps to prevent future missed payments, like a credit card management app. 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.