When is a Credit Card Payment Considered Late?

Woman on laptop surrounded by clocks
© Anthony Harvie / Creative RF / Getty

One of the stipulations of your credit card is that you make the minimum payment on time each month by the due date. Making your credit card payments on time is important if you want to avoid a late fee, potential penalty rate increase, a blemish on your credit report, and you want to keep your credit card in good standing.

When Will Your Credit Card Payment Be Late?

Your credit card payment is due by 5 p.m. on the due date, unless your credit card issuer has specified a later time.

If your payment is received after the cutoff time, it’s considered late.

Late Payments Based on Time Zone

The time zone is a factor if you live in a different time zone from your credit card issuer. The due time is based on your credit card issuer's time zone. This 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 one. 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. Make your payment early to 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. If your payment due date falls on a weekend, holiday, or other day that your credit card issuer doesn’t accept payments, the credit card issuer must accept your payment as on time if it’s received by 5 p.m. on the following business day.

So, for example, if your due date fell on a Sunday and your credit 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 all day every day, 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. Otherwise, you’re technically late and can receive all the penalties of a late payment, e.g. a late fee.

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.

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 for the 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. You will be charged a fee for an expedited payment.

Less Than Minimum Payments

Your credit card payment is also considered late if it’s less than the minimum amount due, regardless of when you pay it. You must pay at least the minimum payment to be considered on time.