Tips to avoid late payment fees

Tactics to help you pay your credit card bill by the due date.

You have a budget. You’re organized. And you always try to pay on time—but mistakes can happen to anyone. Regardless of why you might miss your payment due date, one thing’s for sure: A late payment fee is never a welcome addition to your credit card bill.

What is a late payment fee?

A late payment fee is a penalty charged by your credit card company for not paying your bill on time. The good news is late fees are avoidable if you manage your account correctly. Remember these tips to help avoid late payment fees and keep your credit in good shape.

How much are late fees?

Late fees can vary by credit card company. For example, a typical late fee for a first missed payment is $30. A typical late fee for a second missed payment in the next six billing cycles is $41. 

Keep in mind that credit card issuers aren’t required to charge those amounts, so some might charge a different amount. But your late fee can't be more than the minimum payment due on the payment you missed.  

If you miss two or more required payments, there could also be increases to your annual percentage rate. Check your credit card agreement to see what late fees your issuer would charge and whether there might be other impacts to your account.

Know when your payment is due

Pay just one day late and you may have to pay a fee, even if it’s your first time. Generally, the later the payment, the worse the effect could be on your credit. So know your due dates and stick to them. Late payments could affect your credit score based on a number of factors:

  • How late was a payment? 
  • How recently was a payment missed?
  • How often are payments missed? 

Be mindful of when you submit your payment

Keep an eye on both the calendar and the clock when popping that envelope in the mail. Timing is so important when paying your bills. Companies typically determine whether your payment is late based on when they receive it—not when the payment was mailed.

Credit card companies might consider your payment late if they haven’t received it by a specific time on the day it’s due—for example, 5 p.m. To find out your bank’s specific policy, be sure to contact them. 

Consider setting up automated payments

Need help avoiding missed due dates and the late payment fees that go with them? You can schedule payments in advance, set up automatic payments or set a reminder on your phone. Your credit card company may also offer tools to help you pay on time—helpful when you’re traveling or life in general gets extra busy. 

Keep your credit in good standing

Your payment history impacts your credit score. And while making sure you don’t miss your due date is critical, it’s also important to pay more than just the minimum, if possible. If you carry a revolving balance—meaning you don’t pay your entire monthly balance—you may be charged interest. So, if you want to avoid interest altogether, the simple solution is to pay off your balance in full each month.

Paying your credit card bill on time is an important part of building and improving your credit score. And a great tool to help you out on your financial journey is CreditWise from Capital One. It’s free to everyone. And you can use it to monitor your credit, explore the potential impact of financial decisions on your credit score and more!

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