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Late fees are an unavoidable fact of life. There is not one contract for credit that does not include late fee charges in some way shape or form. Sometimes the confusing yet eloquent wording of the credit card disclosure can lead you to believe you found a credit card without a late fee, only to find that sure enough there is one. Sometimes you have a shorter than normal grace period.
Also, most companies tell you to allow a certain period to allow for processing, if you mail a check out a few days in advance allowing for mail delivery time you most likely will incur a late fee for not allowing for the credit company processing time. If you are mailing payment, give it 10 days.
However, there are ways to avoid the common pitfalls of late fees. First, if you have good credit you can actually apply for a NO FEE credit card. Really? Really. Clear From American Express has no fees, an automatic rewards program, and useful credit management tools. For consumers that always pay off their cards each month, this card is great.
For the rest of us, look for a card that has a longer than normal grace period. The standard period is 25 days, so anything over that is good. If you have a small business or are an individual with excellent credit, you could apply for the Advanta Net-90 Platinum BusinessCard that actually allows for a 90-day grace period, perfect for businesses that use the quarterly accounting method. Otherwise, you need to take steps to ensure you can avoid those late payment fees.
Take advantage of your credit card provider’s automatic payment plan. You can usually set the payment plan up online. Normally the plan will only pay for you the minimum payment amount. However, you can take advantage of the fact that your payment is always made on time and then send additional payments as you can afford to pay off or pay down balances.
Most credit card providers have online account access. This access allows you to check your balance, check on charges, payments due and normally online payments. The payments normally come from your bank checking or savings account or debit card. Most times you can be assured that the payment is posted the same day and normally at the exact moment you make the online payment. Sometimes there in a nominal fee involved but it is normally much lower than a late payment fee would be.
Bill Payment Services
If your bank offers online bill pay services you can utilize this service to schedule an make payments on time. With this option you have the ability to change the schedule and the amount at anytime up to a day or so before the payment is sent. If your online bill pay service is with the same company as your card you can usually schedule the payment for the actual due date without incurring a late fee.
All companies offer telephone payments. However, you need to be aware of the policies ahead of time so you are not surprised with an unexpected fee. You may be charged a Rush fee of some sort if you are calling within a certain amount of days before or on the actual due date. Also, you may incur a small processing fee which again, will be much smaller than the actual late fee.
Request a Waiver
If you do happen to get a late fee you may be able to call and request them to waive it for you, many times they will provided you do not make a habit of it. They will probably remind you to mail your payment out at least 10 days before it is due because of the postal time and then the company’s own processing time- so be sure to tell them you mailed it out well in advance of the due date.
If you honestly feel that you are giving your payments enough time to get to the company and you are still receiving late fees on your account, you might consider mailing your statement with a return receipt or certified mail. This way, you will have a record of when it was mailed and when it was received and that can serve as your defense and save you from having to pay a late fee.