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Q: I usually pay off my credit card balance each month, but I’ve gotten carried away with my holiday shopping, and I definitely can’t pay off the full amount this month. What should I do?
A: If you have a credit card that you are expected to pay off completely each month and find yourself in a position of not being able to do so, the worst thing you can do is nothing. Instead of ignoring it and hoping it will magically pay itself or just disappear you should take some definitive steps.
The first thing to do is to call the credit card company before the next payment due date and explain your situation. Tell the person you speak to exactly what has happened to cause you to not be able to make your full payment this month. Be truthful. They will most likely appreciate your honesty.
Next, tell them exactly how much you can pay. Make it as much as you possibly can. Ask them if they will accept this payment.
If they say yes, ask them if you have a certain time in which to make the remainder of the payment, or if the remaining balance will carry over to the next month. If they say they will carry it over, be sure to ask them about any additional penalty fees or finance charges that may be incurred.
Also ask if this will affect your interest rate. It may be that having to make a partial payment will cause the company to raise your interest rate. If so, you will have to plan for the increase in your next month’s bill and the months thereafter.