Credit card late fees continue to rise, along with late fees for other bills. Late fees are everywhere, just waiting to trip you up and take your money. You could wind up spending hundreds of dollars a year, sometimes even more, when you are hit with late fees. That is why it is so important to know how to avoid late fees, no matter the source of origination.
Here are seven different ways you can start to keep more of your money.
Sign up for Alerts
Many businesses and organizations, from banks to your local library, offer free alerts to get your attention before the late fees kick in. Take advantage of this and sign up as soon as possible. You can often get alerts by email, by text or by phone call, so choose whichever method would work best for you.
No free alerts being offered? Use your smartphone or computer to set up your own alerts that kick in a few days before you need to take an action, whether it is paying a bill or returning a library book.
When deciding which banks, credit cards or companies to use, find out whether or not they offer automatic grace periods. Often smaller credit unions and businesses do, and it is automatic. You may get a certain number of grace time per year, or it may always be available. Grace periods usually extend anywhere from one to five business days.
Ask for Grace
If you know that there is no way you are going to make a payment on time, you can call and ask if they would give you some grace and extend the payment window. This is best done before or up to when a bill is due. If you have made previous submissions on time, and are in good standing, then chances are good you will be granted some extra time to get your payment in before incurring the standard late fee.
Set Up Automatic Payments
A great way to avoid late fees on regular bills is to set up an automatic payment system. This way, bills are paid directly out of your account when they come due, thus avoiding being late and the late fees. Just make sure that you check in on your payments each month to make sure that they did in fact go through.
Pay Attention to Payment Rules
Not following payment rules can result in late fees. Whenever you pay a bill, make sure you understand how to do it. Check the rules to see whether you need to submit your payment in the supplied pre-printed envelope, if you need to writer your account numbers on your checks, etc.
Use Express Options
Mail your payment in overnight if needed. Usually, express delivery mail costs less than the late fees you would incur if your payment is late. Call ahead first before you use this option, since some companies have a different address or department to process express payments. Sometimes there is a fee involved to do this by phone, but again, the cost is usually much less than a late fee.
Keep Bills and Items Visible
Out of sight is often out of mind. If something needs to be returned, place it by the front door. If there are bills that need to be paid, keep them in front of you out in the open in a bin on your desk, rather than a drawer. Seeing everything up front will serve as a visual reminder.