When Is a Credit Card Payment Considered Late?

Woman on laptop, surrounded by clocks, wondering when her credit card payment is due

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When you open a credit card, one of the most important things you agree to do is to make the required monthly minimum payment by the due date. Keeping up with this agreement is important if you want to avoid penalties: a late fee, a potential penalty rate increase, a blemish on your credit report, and losing your good standing with your credit card issuer.

When Is Your Credit Card Payment Late?

Your credit card payment is due on the same date and time every month. In most cases, by 5 p.m. on the due date, unless your credit card issuer has a specified later time.

For example, some credit card issuers may allow you to make an online or phone payment as late as midnight on the due date. You must check with your credit card issuer to find out the exact cutoff time for your payment.

If your payment is received even just a minute after the cutoff time on the due date, it is considered late.

Late Payments Based on Time Zone

The time zone is a factor with the timing of your credit card payment if you live in a different time zone from your credit card issuer. The payment cutoff time is based on your credit card issuer's time zone, which may differ from yours. This time difference may affect the timeliness of phone and internet payments if you live in a western time zone, and your card issuer is located in an eastern time zone. 

For example, if you live in the Central Standard time zone and your card issuer is located in the Eastern time zone, your payment would be late if made after 4 p.m. your time. Making your payment a few days before your due date will help you avoid time zone discrepancies.

Weekend and Holiday Due Dates

Your credit card issuer may be legally required to accept your payment after the due date, but only in a narrow set of circumstances. Perhaps your payment due date falls on a weekend, holiday, or another day that your card issuer doesn’t accept payments. The card issuer must accept your payment as "on time" if it is received by 5 p.m. on the following business day.

So, for example, if your due date fell on a Sunday when your card issuer’s processing offices were closed for payments (and they don’t have a system for accepting phone or online payments), you could make your payment the following Monday by 5 p.m., and it would still be on time.

Note that the exception only applies on days that your credit card issuer doesn’t accept payments. Nearly all credit card issuers accept phone and online payments daily, even on weekends and holidays. Because of that, the exception rarely ever applies. You must make your payment by 5 p.m. on the due date, even if that date falls on a holiday or a weekend. Otherwise, you’re technically late and can receive all the penalties of late payment, e.g., a late fee.

Some credit card issuers have later payment cutoff times - like 8 p.m. or midnight. Check the payment page on your online account or call your credit card issuer to determine the exact time you need to make a payment to be considered on time.

Delays With Payment Posting

Be aware also that it can take two or three days for an online or automated phone payment to process and post to your account. Because of the processing time, a payment submitted before 5 p.m. on the due date can still be late, if your credit card issuer requires payments to complete the process to be considered on time.

Many credit card issuers allow you to make expedited payments on the due date to avoid a late fee. You'll have to speak to a live agent on the phone to initiate an expedited payment. Call the number on your billing statement or the back of your credit card if you're making a payment on the due date. The payment can post to your account that date, and you will be charged a fee for an expedited payment. The expedited payment fee is usually less than the late fee, so it is typically worth it to avoid the more expensive fee.

Less Than Minimum Payments

Your credit card agreement requires you to pay the minimum payment. Payment can also be considered late if it is less than the minimum amount due, regardless of when you pay it. You must pay at least the minimum due for your payment to be considered on time.