Clearing the Way

How to avoid credit card late fees

Credit card late fees can be crippling. You’re not along if you’ve found yourself getting hit with these charges. According to a recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report, American credit card holders paid more than $12 billion in late fees in 2020. That’s quite a large amount. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid those charges. Here’s what you need to know.

The Numbers

The average first late fee is $26. After that, if you’re late again, the average late fee jumps to $35. That increased late fee can be charged for each late payment within six billing cycles, but you can only be charged one late fee per month. Still, you can see how late fees can really add up. A few of those charges in a row can ruin your monthly budget, leaving you struggling to keep your head above water.

Prevent It

As USA Today suggests, the best way to deal with credit card late fees is to set yourself up for success. That means creating reminders via email or text for your payment due dates, keeping a detailed budget that accounts for monthly credit card bills or setting up autopay. You could also call your credit card company and ask them to change the due date to something that is easier for you to manage.

Call Them

Speaking of phone calls, if you’ve been a good customer, there’s a good chance you can get late fees waived (not always, but generally the first time you request it.) In one report, 82 percent of consumers who asked for a late fee to be cleared were approved. Just remember, you need to call and ask first.

Chris O'Shea

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