Handling an Accidentally Missed Credit Card Payment

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It’s the 15th, and you realize that you didn’t make your credit card payment, which was due on the 12th. Or you check your billing statement to find that a late fee has been assessed for a payment you thought you made; however, it turns out that you forgot to drop the check in the mail. An accidentally missed payment can happen to anyone. Act quickly, and you may be able to lessen the damage.

Make the Payment as Soon as You Can

If you are a few days late, do your best to pay your bill before the beginning of the next billing cycle. Doing so will prevent the credit card company from reporting a negative payment history to the credit bureaus, which can damage your credit score. Creditors typically report delinquent payments once they become at least 30 days late; so make your payment before becoming 30-days delinquent.

Call and Ask for Leniency

If you have made a late payment, check your account to see if a late fee has been applied; some card issuers impose a late fee immediately after the due date. Late fees can only be as high as your minimum payment or $25, assuming you haven’t been late in the previous six months. Despite the recent cap on late fees, you should avoid it.

Many creditors are willing to waive the fee as long as you’re not habitually late on payments. Contact your creditor, briefly explain why the payment was late, and ask that they waive the late fee. If the creditor denies your request, take it as a lesson learned, pay the fee, and send your payment on time for future payments.

Can You Protect Your Interest Rate?

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about an interest rate hike after being a few days late on one payment unless you have a promotional rate. Credit card law specifies that creditors can’t impose a penalty rate increase unless you’re at least 60 days delinquent on your payment.

The bad news, however, is that missing a payment (despite the reason or degree of lateness) could cause you to forfeit any promotional rate. A creditor who’s willing to waive a late fee might not be as forgiving when it comes to your promotional rate.

Remember When Your Bills Are Due

If the accidentally missed payment was an isolated event, odds are that you have a good system for remembering your due dates. On the other hand, if you notice that you’re forgetting payments often, you need to develop a system of reminders. For example, a monthly bill payment calendar that lists the due dates & minimum payments for all your accounts might help you.

You can set up reminders in your email or calendaring system (e.g., Microsoft Outlook or Gmail). If you rely on your cell phone, use your phone’s calendar or a third-party app to send reminders for your bill due dates.

Send an email to FollowUpThen.com to get an email reminder to make your payment (e.g., Every5th@followupthen.com); don’t include any specific personal information, and set the reminder a few days before your payment is due. Send the email from an address that is linked to your phone so you can receive notification alerts.

Finally, you can set up an automatic payment through your bank’s online bill pay to eliminate missed payments. Just make sure the payment is set for at least the minimum amount due and before the due date, or you’ll be hit with a late fee. Also, be sure that you have enough money in your account to cover the payment to avoid paying an overdraft, insufficient funds, or returned check fee.