credit cards

How to avoid late fees

Being late is going to cost you, big time.

With credit card late fees at $39, this is no time to be the least bit tardy with your card payment.

1. Mind those payment rules

One of the most important things you can do is follow your card issuer's payment guidelines precisely. These guidelines are outlined on the back of each credit card bill.

When it comes to processing credit card payments, all these little details are incredibly important.

Payment guidelines may include everything from a specific payment address to the time of day by which the payment must be received to be credited that day. Many issuers also stipulate that payments must arrive in the preprinted envelope sent to the customer.

While the Fair Credit Billing Act requires issuers to credit payments the day they are received, each issuer is allowed to set specific payment guidelines. If any of the guidelines are not met, the issuer can take as many as five days to credit the payment.

An on-time payment could easily become "late" during that five-day period, so follow those payment guidelines carefully.

To ensure your payment gets credited immediately:

  • Use the preprinted envelope provided by the credit card company.
  • Include the billing coupon, and be sure to write the amount being paid in the box provided.
  • Make sure checks are legible and the payment amount is correct. Sign the check. Write the credit card account number on the check.
  • Send payment with proper postage to the payment address requested by the issuer. It's a good idea to mail your payment at least one week in advance of the due date. Ten days to two weeks prior to a due date is even better.
Avoid late fees
These payment tips and strategies from will show you how to steer clear of those monster late fees.
7 ways to avoid late fees
  1. Follow payment guidelines.
  2. Pay minimum immediately.
  3. Change your due date.
  4. Set up automatic online, on-time payments.
  5. Pay by phone.
  6. Express mail or wire payment.
  7. Good payers can ask for waiver.

2. Pay minimum immediately

The safest strategy for anyone sending a card payment by snail mail is to pay the bill as soon as it arrives, even if you can only make the minimum payment. Giving your issuer the 2 percent minimum payment it wants ASAP is a great way to guard against late fees. And you can always send a bigger payment when you've got more cash.



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