We’ll all make mistakes. Here’s one of my recent errors.
I use a couple of different credit cards every month to pay my bills and handle basic spending (groceries, gas, etc.). I also have one random card that I use to pay my traffic toll tag automatically.
About once every other month a new toll charge hits. This card, unfortunately, can’t be paid automatically. At least I couldn’t figure out how to pay it automatically. It’s a Bank of America card.
As an aside, I recommend that everyone sets up automatic payments on their credit cards. That way your entire balance is paid off each month without you having to remember. It’s just a good system to have in place for all of your cards.
My Credit Card Late Fee
Long story, short, I missed the payment deadline on this randomly used card, and didn’t realize it until a couple of days later. Once I realized it, I immediately panicked and logged into my online account. There it was: a $39 late fee. Ouch!
My first thought was that I need to remove the automatic toll charge that hits my card every other month. That’s a recipe for disaster. A more routine, monthly bill would be better suited for keeping this card active. Which was my purpose all along.
My next thought was to make a call and ask for forgiveness. I figured it didn’t hurt to ask. So that’s what I did. I called up the bank and begged to have the credit card late fee waived, sighting my prior clean record. It worked! The rep took my payment (from my other bank debit card), and waived the late fee! Woot!
I could have called and yelled at the rep. But I don’t think that would have worked as effectively. I think it’s key in these situations to take the passive approach.
You are far more likely to get the result you need if you play it cool. Especially if it’s your first offense. If you can’t convince the rep in a nice way, then I suggest asking to speak to their supervisor: someone who can waive the fee for you.
Keep working your way calmly up the chain of command until you get the outcome you desire.
Lessons Learned From the Credit Card Late Fee
I guess the moral of the story is to always ask to have your credit card late fee waived. Odds are, if it’s your first time, they will waive the fee. If it’s your second offense, you may have to work a bit harder.
The other lesson learned is to setup automatic payments to your card so that it’s paid off in full each month. If your bank doesn’t offer this service, then it may be time to switch banks or stop using that card.
Update: I’ve since moved my checking entirely to Capital One 360 and my credit card use has all been shifted to the Chase Freedom. I pay my credit card off each month in full using an automatic withdrawal from my Capital One 360 checking account.
How have you handled an accidental late fee on your credit card?