How to Get a Credit Card Late Fee Waiver

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  • If you don’t pay your credit card bill on time, late fees will appear on your statement the following month.
  • The average credit card late fee is $26, and late fees account for more than half of all consumer charges.
  • If you accidentally paid your bill late, here are three steps you can take to get credit card late fees waived.

When used responsibly, credit cards have many benefits for borrowers. You’ll get extra protection against credit card fraud, and some cards come with cashback. But if you miss a payment, you’ll be hit with late fees (although some credit cards don’t charge late fees).

If you’re stuck with credit card late fees, Louis J. Schoeman, director and financial expert at Suggest Forex, recommends trying to get a waiver as soon as possible. He says most credit card companies are surprisingly understanding. “In most cases, they’ll give it up if it’s your first time,” he explains.

How credit card late fees work

Your credit card company issues late fees if you cannot make the minimum monthly payment by the due date. The exact fees depend on the card issuer, but most charge a flat fee.

Late fees will appear on your credit card statement the following month. Late fees increase your total balance and you will have to pay interest on these charges. Some credit card companies offer grace periods, which is a time frame in which payment can be delayed without late fees.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the average late fee is $26 per late payment. Late fees represent 99% of penalties and more than half of all consumer charges.

How Late Payments Can Hurt You

It’s important to get into the habit of paying your bills on time, because late payments can have a negative impact on you. “How late fees might affect you really depends on your situation and the agreement you have in place,” Schoeman says.

If your payment is only one or two days late, you will receive late fees. Some credit card companies have tiered late fees, which means the fees are based on your balance. For example, the first late fee might be $20, but later late fees might 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 will determine how much it affects your credit score.

And if your payment is more than 60 days late, your credit card company may issue an APR penalty. For example, if your regular APR is 18.24%, you could receive a penalty APR of 29.99%.

Schoeman says one thing a lot of people don’t realize is that late payments can thwart any promotions you received with the card. “This is particularly important if you have acquired an interest-free credit card, as a late payment may cancel this interest-free period.”

How to get credit card late fees waived

Things happen and even the most responsible borrower can sometimes make their credit card payment late. But depending on the circumstances, some credit card issuers will waive late fees. If you accidentally paid your credit card late and were hit with late fees, here are some steps you can take.

1. Pay your bill immediately

If you missed your payment, the first thing to do is pay your bill immediately. Leaving your credit card bill unpaid for too long can damage your credit and cause bigger financial problems later. Also, your issuer will be more willing to work with you if they can see that you fixed the problem quickly.

2. Check if you received late fees

Next, you want to verify that you received late fees. You can check your credit card statement to see if your lender charged late fees. You will also be able to see if you received an APR penalty or 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 are self-employed and have received a late payment from a customer or have been in poor health, it is likely that the credit card company will sympathize with you and waive all charges,” he explains.

Apologize for the late fee and explain why it happened. Be sure to highlight your good customer history and ask them if they’re willing to waive the fee.

Ways to avoid credit card late fees

Your credit card issuer may be willing to waive late fees for a one-time event. But they’ll be less likely to work with you if you’re regularly late paying your bill. Here are some ways to avoid credit card late fees in the future:

  • Review your budget: Start by reviewing your monthly budget and assessing whether you can afford to make your minimum payments each month. You’ll have to find ways to cut back in other areas if you can’t.
  • 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. This way you always know when an upcoming payment is due.
  • Automate your payments: When you automate your monthly payments, you don’t have to remember to log in and pay your bill. You can do this by logging into your account and activating the automatic payment function.
  • Adjust your payment due date: If your payment falls at an inconvenient time – for example, a few days before payday – you can contact your issuer and ask them to adjust your due date.

The bottom line

It’s easy to forget your payment due date and pay your credit card bill late. Fortunately, if you have a history of paying on time, you can contact your issuer and ask to receive a credit card late fee waiver.

However, you want to research strategies to avoid late payments in the future. Reviewing your budget, adjusting your due date, and setting up automatic payment will help you avoid late fees and the resulting financial consequences.

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