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Here’s What Happens When You Pay Your Credit Card Bill a Few Days Late

A woman looks at her credit card in confusion while sitting in a café.

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Paying your credit card bills in full can help ensure that you don’t lose money to interest. And paying them on time can help you avoid costly late payment fees.

But what if you’re a few days late with a credit card bill? It may be that you got sick and were holed up in your bed at the time your bill was due. Or maybe you were under a lot of stress at work and simply forgot to make your payment on time.

Often, being a few days late with a credit card bill won’t cause damage to your credit score. But your credit card issuer may end up charging you a late fee in that situation.

When you’re only a few days past your bill’s due date

Being timely with bills is extremely important from a credit score standpoint. That’s because your payment history carries more weight than any other factor when coming up with that number.

The good news, though, is that if you’re a few days late with a payment, it generally will not negatively impact your credit score. That’s because credit card companies typically do not report late payments to the credit bureaus until you’re a full 30 days late. So if you have a payment due on the 15th of the month and realize on the 18th that you forgot to send your money in, you’ll usually be okay credit score-wise if you make your payment three days later.

That said, while being a few days late with a credit card payment may not hurt your credit score, your credit card issuer may opt to impose a late fee. Technically, it can do this if you’re even a day late.

However, if you’re an account holder in good standing and this is the first time you’ve ever been late with a bill, chances are, you can get out of paying that fee. You’ll probably need to call your credit card company, explain the situation, and ask to have the fee waived.

If you try to do this repeatedly, you may find that you end up getting denied. But if it’s the first time you’ve been late, there’s a good chance your credit card issuer will work with you.

Try to avoid late payments

Although being a few days late on a credit card bill may not harm your credit score, it has the potential to cost you money. So one good way to avoid that fate is to mark your calendar with your credit cards’ billing due dates and set up reminders so you’re prompted to make your payments.

You may also have the option to set up automatic payments on your credit card account so you’re never in a situation where you’re late with a bill. For this to work, you’ll need to make sure to keep enough cash in your checking account to cover at least your minimum payments. But if that’s something you’re able to do, you can avoid the hassle of dealing with late fees.

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