My credit reports evidence no "late
payments" or "missed payments" on my credit
card accounts. However, I have been assessed "late-payment"
fees several times because the payments did not arrive before
the due dates. Do these "late payments" affect my
Generally speaking, creditors do not report late payments to
the credit reporting agencies unless they are more than 30 days
late. Your payment missing the due date by a few days or a couple
weeks will likely have no negative effect on your credit score,
but it certainly has a negative effect on your pocketbook.
I am pleased that you are keeping up with your
credit reports and that you apparently have no negative information,
at least any that concerns your credit card accounts. What
I am concerned about, however, is your inability to pay your
bills on time and your predicament of paying late-payment
fees to your creditors.
Did you know that a late-payment fee of
$29 is very often more than what you are charged in interest
for the month and, depending on your current balance, can
be the equivalent of paying a 30 to 100 percent penalty? Whatever
you are paying in interest on your cards is more than enough:
Don't add to it by missing payment due dates. You want to
keep as much of your money as possible. Your creditors are
earning enough. late-payment fees are just a bonus for them.
Sooner or later, you'll slip a little too late
and then your credit score will be impacted. So let's get
you organized and make life a little simpler and much less
expensive! To help you avoid paying late fees in the future,
pick a strategy below or come up with one of your own and
stick to it.
Strategy 1: Pay your
bills the day they arrive in the mail. This works well
for people who are not very organized when it comes to bill
paying. You do, however, have to be diligent about sticking
with the plan. Sit down and write out the check or pay the
bill online, even when you don't feel like it and even if
it's well before it's due.
Strategy 2: Mark your
due dates for credit card bills and other accounts on a calendar
in bold ink. Then back up two weeks for a mailed payment
or four days for an online payment and pay the bill on that
date. For this strategy to work, you will have to be willing
to mark the dates on the calendar each month and keep the
calendar in a place where you see it every day.
Strategy 3: Determine
what time of the month is best for you to pay your credit
card bills and contact your creditors and ask that your due
dates be changed to that time of month. That way you
can pay each bill at the same time and not have to worry about
multiple due dates. Watch your statements carefully to assure
that the due dates do change.
Making payments on time is one of the best ways
to assure a good credit rating. It is also a great way to
keep more of your hard-earned money rather than wasting it
on late-payment fees.
The Debt Adviser, Steve Bucci, is the president
of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Southern New England.
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