Hey, you paid your credit card bill for the month, right?
If that question made you sit up a little straighter and second-guess whether you did actually pay your credit card…well, I’m not exactly surprised.
It turns out, even though we’ve discussed before that you should automate your finances so you never miss a payment, plenty of you still miss your due dates. A new survey from personal finance recommendation site WalletHub found 18% of adults expect to miss at least one credit card due date in 2020.
And it’s not because they don’t have enough money to pay. The top reason respondents reported for missing a credit card payment was simply forgetting. And high-income-earners ($149,600 or more) were twice as likely than low-income earners ($37,400 or less) to miss a payment due to forgetfulness.
The easiest way to avoid this common flub is to do what is easily the best financial hack you can set up for yourself: Schedule recurring payments on your credit card for a few days ahead of when your payment is due. You don’t have to know exactly how much your balance will be; just set it to hit your bank account for the minimum required payment. Once you see that transaction go through, it’ll remind you to log on and pay off any remaining balance after that automatic payment.
“This will at least remove forgetfulness as a potential cause,” said WalletHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou. But you’ll still have to make sure you have enough money in checking to pay your minimum balance. Thirty per cent of respondents said not having enough money has caused them to pay late.
If your credit card due date rolls around at a difficult time each month—say, the third of the month when you just paid rent with your paycheck that hit on the first—you can ask your credit card issuer to change your due date. You can usually do this by logging into your account online and looking around your account settings; you can also use your card’s live chat customer service option if you don’t want to ask via phone.
And while you’re logged in, check what your credit card charges for late payment fees. WalletHub found that only 49% of people think about a card’s late fees when they choose to apply.
If your late payment is truly a one-time slip-up, it’s worth asking to have your late fee waived: Almost nine in 10 people who said they’ve tried to get a credit card late fee waived were successful, according to the survey. But if you’re a repeat offender, don’t expect to be so lucky, even if you have a card that advertises no late fees. “‘No late fee’ often actually means no fee the first time you miss a due date,” Papadimitriou said. “After that, all bets are off.”