Even if you try your best to make all of your credit card payments on time, there may come a time that you accidentally miss a credit card payment and you’re late. Missing a credit card payment has consequences from slight to severe, and it all depends on just how late you are.

What Counts as a Late Payment?

Your credit card payment is due on the same date each month. For example, if your payment is due on the 5th of this month it will be due on the 5th of every month. Your credit card agreement requires that you send at least the minimum payment for your credit card by the due date each month. Your credit card issuer will probably have a cut-off time on the due date by which you are payment must be received. By law, this cut off time must be at least 5 p.m. some credit card issuers may allow you to pay up until midnight and your payment will count for that day.

Late Fees

If your credit card issuer doesn’t receive the minimum payment by the cut-off time on the due date, your payment is considered late. You’ll be charged a late fee based on your credit card payment. The first late fee will be about $25, but if your late on a payment again within 6 months your late fee can be $35. You can be charged a late fee even if you are just a few seconds late on your credit card payment.

With the late fee added to your credit card payment, the next payment due will be higher than normal. This means that you will have to pay more to get your account caught up again and in good standing.

If you typically make your payments on time each month and this late payment was an accident, your credit card issuer may be willing to waive the late fee. Call your credit card customer service using the number on the back of your credit card, explain the situation, and ask that the late fee be waived as a courtesy just this time. Having the late fee waived will make it easier to catch up on your payment.

Credit Report Notices

Fortunately, if you make your credit card payment before 30 days have passed you’ll keep the late payment from being added to your credit report. However, if you do not make the payment before your next due date rolls around, there’s a good chance that your payment will be 30 days late and it will be noted on your credit report. Once the late payment is on your credit report, it will also be included in your credit score. Your credit score can drop because of the late payment.

Interest Rate Increase

At 60 days past due, your credit card issuer is allowed to increase your interest rate to the highest penalty rate. For the next few months your finance charges will be based on the penalty rate. That means you will be paying more in interest on your credit card than you would be if you had not fallen behind on your payments.

The good news is your interest rate will go back down after you have made six consecutive timely payments on your credit card. The bad news is that your credit card issuer is allowed to keep the penalty rate in effect for any purchases made on your credit card after the penalty rate became effective. Another piece of bad news about the penalty rate is that some credit card issuers will extend the penalty rate to other credit cards you have with that company.

Loss of Purchasing Privileges and Rewards

You’ll still be able to use your credit card when you’re only a little behind on your payments. However, falling behind by several months could cost your purchasing privileges. You can also forfeit your credit card rewards if you are late on your credit card payment.

Tips for Making Your Payments on Time

If you have trouble keeping up with your credit card payments you can set up automatic payments through your credit card issuer or your bank. Since your credit card payments are due on the same date each month setting up an automatic payment will help ensure your payments are made on time each month. You can set an automatic payment for the minimum due on your account and pay extra if you would like to.

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