Insider’s experts select the best products and services to help you make wise decisions with your money (here’s how). In some cases we receive a commission from our partners, but our opinion is our own. The conditions apply to the offers listed on this page.
- If you don’t pay your credit card bill on time, a late fee will appear on your statement next month.
- The average credit card late fee is $26, and late fees account for more than half of all consumer fees.
- If you accidentally paid your bill late, here are three steps you can take to get a credit card fee waiver.
When used responsibly, credit cards offer numerous benefits for borrowers. You get extra protection against credit card fraud, and some cards come with cashback rewards. But if you miss a payment, you’ll be charged a late fee (although some credit cards don’t charge late fees).
If you’re stuck with a late credit card fee, Louis J. Schoeman, director and financial expert at Forex Suggest, recommends trying to get it waived as soon as possible. He says most credit card companies are surprisingly understanding. “Most of the time, if it’s the first time, they skip it,” he explains.
This is how credit card late fees work
Your credit card company will charge a late fee if you are unable to make the minimum monthly payment by the due date. The exact fee depends on the card issuer, but most charge a flat fee.
A late fee will appear on your credit card statement the following month. The late fee will increase your total balance and you will have to pay interest on that fee. Some credit card companies offer grace periods, which is a time frame within which payment can be delayed without a late fee.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the average late fee is $26 per late payment. Late fees account for 99% of fines and more than half of all consumer fees.
How Late Payments Can Hurt You
It’s important to get in the habit of paying your bills on time, as late payments can negatively impact you. “How late fees may affect you really depends on your circumstances and the arrangement you have in place,” says Schoeman.
If your payment is just a day or two late, you will be charged a late fee. Some credit card companies have tiered late fees, meaning the fee is based on your balance. For example, the first late fee could be $20, but subsequent late fees could increase.
If your payment is more than 30 days late, your credit card issuer will report the late payment to the major credit bureaus. Schoeman says your overall credit profile determines how much it affects your credit score.
And if your payment is more than 60 days late, your credit card company may impose an APR. For example, if your regular APR is 18.24%, you could receive a penalty APR of 29.99%.
Schoeman says many people don’t realize that late payments can negate any promotions you’ve received with the card. “This is especially important if you’ve purchased an interest-free credit card, as late payment can negate that interest-free period.”
How to waive credit card late fees
Things happen, and even the most responsible borrower can occasionally be late on their credit card payment. However, depending on the circumstances, some credit card issuers waive late fees. If you accidentally paid your credit card late and were charged a late fee, here are some steps you can take.
1. Pay your bill immediately
If you have missed your payment, the first step you should take is to pay your bill immediately. Leaving your credit card bill unpaid for too long can damage your balance and lead to bigger financial problems down the road. Also, your issuer will be more willing to work with you if they see that you took care of the problem quickly.
2. Check if you received a late fee
Next you want to check if you received a late fee. You can check your credit card statement to see if your lender charged a late fee. You can also see if you received an APR or if you lost access to credit card rewards.
3. Contact your credit card issuer
Schoeman recommends contacting your credit card issuer and explaining the situation. There are many scenarios where late payment is understandable and your credit card issuer may be willing to work with you.
“If you’re self-employed and happened to receive a late payment from a customer or were ill, chances are the credit card company will sympathize with you and waive all fees,” he explains.
Apologies for the late fee and explain why it happened. Be sure to highlight your past as a good customer and ask if they’re willing to waive the fee.
Ways to avoid credit card late fees
Your credit card issuer may be willing to waive the late fee for a one-time event. But they’ll be less inclined to work with you if you’re routinely late paying your bill. Here are some ways you can avoid credit card late fees in the future:
- Check your budget: First, look at your monthly budget and assess whether you can afford to make your minimum payments each month. You need to find ways to cut back in other areas when that’s not possible.
- Set up payment reminders: If you’re having trouble remembering to pay your bills on time, you can set up payment reminders on your phone. So you always know when a pending payment is due.
- Automate your payments: When you automate your monthly payments, you don’t have to remember to sign up and pay your bill. You can do this by logging into your account and activating the autopay function.
- Customize your payment due date: If your payment comes at an inconvenient time — say, a few days before payday — you can contact your issuer and ask them to adjust your due date.
The final result
It’s easy to forget the payment due date and pay your credit card bill late. Luckily, if you’ve had a history of making payments on time, you can contact your issuer and ask for an exemption from late credit card fees.
However, you want to look for strategies to avoid late payments in the future. By reviewing your budget, adjusting your due date, and setting up automatic payment, you can avoid late charges and the financial consequences that come with them.