Business days and calendar days can cause some potentially costly confusion when it comes to paying your bills. Banks and many other businesses don't operate on weekends or holidays, which could make you think you have some extra time to pay your credit card. Unfortunately, that's not usually the case.
By law, your credit card payment due date must fall on the same calendar day each month. For instance, your credit card payment might be due on the 5th of each month, rather than falling on the 5th one month, the 4th another month, and the 2nd the next month.
Having your payment due on the same date each month makes it much easier to keep track of your bills, but one of those dates might fall on a weekend or a holiday. These are days when the mail isn’t delivered, most people relax on the weekends and holidays, and your credit card issuer may even be closed for payment processing. Is your payment due anyway, or do you get some extra time to pay because your due date didn't fall on a business day?
The Rule for Weekend or Holiday Due Dates
The Credit CARD Act, which amended the Truth in Lending Act, details when credit card issuers have to accept payments and how they should handle payment due dates that fall on non-business days.
If your due date falls on a holiday or weekend, your credit card issuer has to accept the payment without charging you any penalty as long as the payment is received by the following business day by 5 p.m. There’s a catch though: The rule only applies if the holiday or weekend day falls on a day that the credit card issuer doesn’t accept payments at all. With the 24/7 nature of businesses, credit card issuers are always accepting payments, even on weekends and holidays, though not necessarily by mail.
How to Make Your Payment on Time
When your payment due date falls on a holiday or a weekend in a particular month, aim to make your payment before that day, especially if you typically mail your payment. Most of us aren't thinking about paying bills on holidays and weekends anyway, so planning will ensure that your payment arrives on time.
You can be charged a late fee if your payment isn't received by the cutoff time on due date even if your due date is on a weekend or holiday. Unless your credit card issuer only accepts mail payments (highly unlikely), your payment will be late if it’s received on the following Monday or day after the holiday.
Alternatives to Mailing Your Payment
Drop your payment in the mail a few days earlier than normal, so it has enough time to arrive and be processed before the due date. For example, you might want to mail your payment on a Thursday before the weekend or a day or two before a holiday.
Keep in mind that mail may be delayed around the winter holidays when more people are often mailing packages.
If you can’t mail your payment in time, you can set up a payment online at your credit card issuer’s website. Or, you can call the customer service number on the back of your credit card to make a phone payment. You’ll need your checking account information—account number and routing number—to make an online or telephone payment.
Be aware that if you wait until the actual due date to make your credit card payment, you may have to make an expedited phone payment, a convenience for which you may pay a fee. Remember that unless your credit card issuer has a later payment cutoff time, your payment has must made by 5 p.m. on the due date in order to be considered on time. Keep the card issuer’s time zone in mind.
Be Prepared for Weekend or Holiday Due Dates
Get in the habit of checking the calendar for your due dates at the beginning of every month, or the last week of the month if your payments due on the first few days of the month. By being aware of the upcoming calendar, you’ll already have in mind the payments that fall on weekends or holidays, and you can prepare to have those payments made ahead of the due date.
Penciling your due dates on a calendar or paying all your bills at the beginning of the month are a couple of ways you can make sure your payment is on time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long does it take a credit card payment to process?
It can take up to a few business days for credit card payments to process, but they can often process within a single business day. The speed will depend on the credit card company and the bank you use to make payments. If the checking account that you use to pay your credit card is with the same company as your credit card, then payments will likely process very quickly.
What happens if you only make the minimum payment on your credit card?
If you only make the minimum payment on your credit card, rather than paying off the entire statement balance, then you won't fully pay off your debt and you incur interest charges. If you go too long without paying off your full balance, then your interest costs could become substantial, and your credit score could start to slip.