Can You Avoid a Credit Card Late Payment Fee?

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020
Updated: January 15th, 2020
The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.

A late payment fee is a fee charged by the credit issuer when cardholders fail to pay on time. It applies to both situations: when you didn’t manage to pay before the due date at all and when you did pay but less than the required minimum.

To start with, you can completely forget about late payment fees if you always pay off your credit card debt in full every month or at least make minimum payments within the stated billing period (and it’s better to take care of this in advance, since the payment can take several days to process). It would be preferable not only because of fees but also because once it’s more than 30 days of delinquency, it may be reported to the credit bureaus and decrease your credit score significantly as a result.

However, if you are one of those who forget everything all the time, there are many ways to handle this. For example, you can simply create a reminder on your mobile phone or set up automatic payments via your credit card online account.

Anyway, if a late payment has already happened to you, you shouldn’t be taken aback and better know how to potentially smooth over the losses. Here’s what you can do:

  • Read the Cardholder Agreement Carefully
  • Frankly speaking, acquaintance with the cardholder agreement is the first thing you should do even before applying for the credit card. It is the most reliable source of information on what fees and other charges your credit card includes. The vast majority of credit card companies will add a late payment fee in your statement at sight. Thus, for instance, having failed to pay on time your Capital One credit card, you can be sure to see an additional fee of up to $39 there.

    However, if you are lucky, you may find that your credit card issuer generously waives the fee for your first late payment. For example, such a rule holds true for Discover. You will not be charged the first time you pay late. But note that your next mistake will cost you up to $39.

    In addition, sometimes, not often though, your credit card may come with no late fees at all. A good example is the Petal® Visa® Credit Card. Besides no late payment fees, the card relieves its owners of annual fees, foreign transaction fees, and any other kinds of fees.

  • Call the Issuer/Send a Goodwill Letter
  • In case it turns out that your credit card does charge a late payment fee and it is not waived for the first time, there is still a lifehack that may save you. It concerns asking the issuer to remit the fee. There are two ways you can try: a direct call to the issuer’s customer service and a goodwill letter. In a nutshell, your goal is to admit making a mistake, explain the situation, and persuade the creditor to exempt you from the extra charge.

    Of course, this method cannot be called completely reliable. A call or a letter does not guarantee you at all that the fee will be eliminated even if you have a perfect credit history and this is a one-time occurrence. And in case recordings in your credit reports leave much to be desired, it’s naive to count on the bank’s favor. Moreover, if the issuer nevertheless complies with your appeal, it is unlikely to work again in future. That’s why it is better to do your best not to allow the possibility of missing a payment next time.

All rates and fees, and other terms and conditions of the products mentioned in this article/post are actual as of the last update date but are subject to change. See the current products' Terms & Conditions on the issuing banks' websites.

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