How Late Can I Make My Credit Card Payment?

A woman reviews her bills
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Realizing your credit card payment is due today and you haven't made it yet is a scary feeling. What if you're stuck in a meeting or traffic and you can't make your payment right away? Do you still have time to make your payment? How can you avoid late fees and other penalties?

How Late Can You Make a Payment and Avoid a Late Fee

To avoid paying a late fee, you need to make your credit card payment by a certain time on the due date.

 You can pay your credit card bill as late as 5 pm on your due date if your credit card issuer allows expedited payments. Your credit card issuer must receive your credit card payment by that time to late payment penalties. Beware: you might have to pay a fee to have your payment processed on the due date.

Even if your credit card payment is due on a holiday or a weekend, it's still due by 5 pm, if your credit card issuer is accepting credit card payments on that day. Most card issuers accept phone or online payments any day of the week or any time of day, so holiday or weekend due dates aren't usually a reason to skip your payment for the next business day.

Avoid paying a fee to expedite your payment by mailing your payment a few days in advance. Even online or phone payments should be made 2-3 days in advance to make sure they’re posted to your account by your due date.

How Late Can You Make a Payment and Not Hurt Your Credit Score?

Once a late payment hits your credit report, your credit score will be damaged.

In general, late payments are reported at 30 days late. So if you miss your payment by a few minutes or a few days, your credit score will be safe. If, however, you skip a payment and don't make it until the next due date, there's a good chance your credit will be impacted.

When Does the Penalty Rate Hit

Another consequence of making a late payment is having your interest rate increase to the highest penalty rate.

By law, credit card issuers aren't allow to raise your rate to the penalty rate unless you're 60 days past due on your payment. In some cases, the penalty rate will apply to your balance indefinitely. Avoid letting your payment become this late. Not only will your interest rate and finance charges increase, you'll have paid two late fees and you'll have a 60-day late notice on your credit report.

Making Your Credit Card Payment in the Nick of Time

You don't have to wait until you get in front of a computer to make your credit card payment. Fortunately, credit card issuers offer several convenient payment options that allow you to make your payment from almost anywhere. For example, you can make a phone payment, even on the due date. Note there may be a fee for making an expedited credit card payment.

You can also log on through your phone's internet browser or download your credit card company's smartphone app to make a payment.