Credit card payment due date:
You may have a choice
you're like a lot of people, your monthly bills lack balance. They are weighted
toward the beginning or middle of the month, making it tough to scrape together
enough money to pay all the bills.
It's probably worst at the beginning of the month, when
you have a hefty mortgage or rent payment and maybe a car payment and a credit
card bill or two. Then, in the middle of the month, your bills don't total nearly
A balancing act
Why not move your bills around, so they're not so heavy one part of the month
and so light at another? Some issuers will allow you to balance out your monthly
payments by changing the due dates on your credit cards. All you have to do
is call the customer-service number on the bill and ask.
Just make sure that you pay your bills on time while the
changes take effect. Don't expect this to be a quick fix for a cash-flow crunch.
It takes a billing cycle, and sometimes two, before the date change takes effect.
Meantime, you have to observe your due dates before the change takes effect,
or you'll risk late-payment charges and possibly an unfriendly notation on your
I know how this works firsthand because most of my credit-card
bills became due between the first and 15th of the month. This made it hard
to pay the bills because my mortgage payment was due at the same time. After
the mortgage payment took a huge chunk out of the checkbook balance, I would
have trouble paying the credit card bills.
Different cards, different rules
I called two card issuers and got different results. MBNA, the issuer of my
MasterCard, allowed me to choose the payment due date no questions asked. I
pushed back the due date from the seventh to the 18th, allowing me to pay the
bill in the middle of the month, when my only major bill was a car payment.
American Express, though, was inflexible. I couldn't move
the due date, but the customer-service representative told me that Amex's due
date is only a recommendation. As long as the company receives payment before
the next month's closing date, it's not considered late. That gives customers
almost a month-long grace period -- enough time to pay when it's convenient
to the cardholder.
If you carry a balance on your card, pushing the due date
back a few days could cost you a little more on your next bill, because finance
charges will continue to accrue. In other words, if you push back your due date
by 10 days, you might have to pay 40 days' worth of finance charges on your
next bill instead of 30 days' worth.
But at least you might have enough in your checking account
to pay your credit card bill.
-- Posted: March 16, 2003