Everyone hates late fees and being late will cost you dearly these days. For some credit cards today, if you are late, you will have to shell out as much as $40 each time. This can put a nice sized hole in your pocket really quick.
Below, I will provide you with some tips and strategies on how to steer clear of those monstrous late fees. This will not only save you a lot of money in the long run, but it will also keep those money-hungry credit card companies, I won’t mention any names, from getting your hard earned money.
Just pay your bill. One of the easiest ways of avoiding a late fee is to just pay your bill each and every month by sending in a check, money order, or other type of payment to your respective credit card issuer. Just make sure you follow the numerous guidelines, which are usually outlined on the back of each credit card bill, on how to send in your payment. These guidelines must be followed precisely if you want to guarantee that your payment will go through on time.
Payment guidelines may include everything from a specific payment address to the time of day by which the payment must be received to be credited that day. Many issuers also stipulate that payments must arrive in the preprinted envelope sent to the customer.
While the Fair Credit Billing Act requires issuers to credit payments the day they are received, each issuer is allowed to set specific payment guidelines. If any of the guidelines are not met, the issuer can take as many as five days to credit the payment.
An on-time payment could easily become late during that five-day period, so follow those payment guidelines carefully.
Just skip the payment. One of the more rare types of methods you hear of are Skip-A-Payment services. You can use these services to skip mortgage, credit card, or loan payments. Usually you would need to get in contact with your bank just to see if you even qualify or not. There are also independent companies out there that will allow you to do the same thing, no matter what bank you are a member of. Depending on whose service you use, the fee’s associated with it vary. When you use these types of services make sure you know how much you will be charged then decide if it’s worth it or not.
Pay minimum due immediately. One of the best ways to prevent a late fee from being charged to your account is to pay the minimum due immediately. As soon as you receive your bill, send in the minimum due. This will always insure that your credit card issuer received payment. You can always send in more money later if you decide otherwise. This is a great way to avoid missing a payment because if you forget to send extra money you can guarantee that you won’t be charged a late fee because the minimum due has been already been paid.
Move your due date. Are your credit card bills due at a time of the month when you’re running low on cash? Many people have trouble saving money, so when it comes time to paying their credit card bills, they don’t have any cash to do so. One particular solution is to move your due date. Many credit card issuers will allow you to set your own due date to meet your specific needs. If you have trouble saving money, move your due date to a time when you do have money, like as soon as you get your paycheck. If you time your credit card bill to come the same day you get paid, you will always have cash to pay the bill.
Pay by phone. If you are one of those people that wait to the last minute to do everything or if you just forgot to send in your credit card payment early enough, you could always pay by phone. This guarantees that your payment will be on time. Just supply the representative on the other line with your checking account number and your bank routing number, which is printed at the bottom of each check. Usually the routing number is first and the account number is second. A lot of issuers allow you to pay by phone and some will charge you a pretty penny for doing so. Fee’s can range from $5 to $20.
Use other express methods. If your bank does not offer a “pay by phone” service and you need to get your payment to your credit card issuer as soon as possible, I recommend either sending your payment in by express mail or by Western Union. Either one of these services can get your payment to your credit card issuer immediately. These express methods are costly, but it will always most likely be cheaper than any fees associated with being late. Make sure you send your express payment to the proper address. Many issuers have separate payment addresses for express payments. The last thing you want to do is slow the processing of an express payment by sending it to the wrong address.
Daryl Flagg is the founder and CEO of Next Month Online. Next Month Online is a service that allows its visitors to skip credit card payments.