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Playing the Credit Card Game: Avoiding Late Fees

Did you know that some credit card companies purposely send their customer bills out so late in the billing cycle that you would literally have to submit payment within days of the bill arriving in order to have any chance at getting the payment in on time? It's a tactic that many of the companies use to increase the amount of money they earn off their customers on the late fees. By law credit card companies must send the bill at least 14 days before payment is due. With mail taking up to 3 days to be delivered in each direction, depending on where you live you may only have 8 days to make the payment.

You can avoid paying unnecessary late fees in a variety of ways. Don't credit card companies make enough on you off the interest rates? Check your statement carefully each month to ensure that you're not being charged late fees, even if you're confident you're mailing your payments out on time.

Make Your Payments Online

Almost every credit card company gives you the ability to make payments online. This will save you extensive time. Considering the fact that an envelope sent through regular postal mail can take two to three days in transport, and then another five to seven days to be processed (and have the payment applied to your account) by your credit card company- it's a wonder any payment makes it to your account on time! Making a payment online is typically processed within 1 business day of hitting "Submit", sometimes sooner.

Schedule Automatic Payments With Automatic Bank Withdrawals

Additionally, you can often set your account up to automatically get paid through your checking account on a specified date each month. If your credit card company doesn't offer it, your banking institution might have a bill pay feature you can use. Just select a date a few days before the bill is due, and let the credit card company draft your checking account for the payment. You will never have your payment applied after the due date and therefore eliminate all potential late fees.

Have it Ready to Go!

If you aren't comfortable with making payments online, and you don't like the idea of giving your credit card company access to your checking account to "pay themselves"; you can still beat the system and play the credit card game in order to avoid late fees. You know how much your minimum payment is each month and that it's typically do the same day each month. Have your check or money order ready to mail out, or get in the habit of writing it out the moment you receive your statement. Make sure the payment is mailed out the very next day and you should never receive a late payment.

How to Handle the Dreaded Late Fees

If you do happen to get a late fee, often if you call and request them to waive it for you, they will (provided you don't make a habit of it). They will probably remind you to mail your payment out at least 10 days before it is due because of the postal time and then the company's own processing time- so be sure to tell them you mailed it out well in advance of the due date.

If you honestly feel that you are giving your payments enough time to get to the company and you are still receiving late fees on your account, you might consider mailing your statement with a return receipt or certified mail. This way, you'll have a record of when it was mailed and when it was received and that can serve as your "alibi" and save you from having to pay a late fee (or give you leverage to having a late fee removed if one should be added!)

This article is courtesy of, where you can compare credit cards and apply online for a business credit card.

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