When is my credit card payment considered late?

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Your credit card payment is considered late if it’s received after 5 p.m. on the day it’s due, as specified in the time zone stated on your billing statement. If the due date falls on a Sunday or holiday, the payment can be made the next business day without being considered late.

A late credit card payment is when you don’t pay at least the minimum required amount by the due date specified in your credit card statement. It affects your account and finances by potentially leading to fees, higher interest rates, and a negative impact on your credit score.

Late payments can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, making it harder to get credit or loans in the future, and even affecting your ability to secure lower interest rates. It’s essential to pay on time to avoid these consequences.

When is your credit card payment considered late?

A credit card payment is considered late if it arrives after a specific time on the day it is due, typically 5 p.m. Late payment policies can vary among credit card issuers, so it’s important to check with your specific issuer for their rules.

If your payment due date falls on a holiday or Sunday, and your credit card company doesn’t accept mailed payments on those days, the payment won’t be considered late as long as it’s received by 5 p.m. on the next business day at the required location.

To avoid making a late payment, it’s wise to mail your payment well in advance of the due date. However, paying on time but less than the minimum amount due may still result in a late fee. Many card issuers also allow online or phone payments, providing additional options for meeting your payment deadline.

Late payments vary by time zones

Late payments can differ based on time zones. When you send a payment, you’ll often see a time zone mentioned in the terms and conditions. This is relevant for cardholders who may not share the same time zone as the company issuing the credit card. It’s a crucial detail to pay attention to because it could potentially result in your payment being considered late.

For instance, if you live on the west coast and your credit card issuer operates on the east coast, the deadline for a late payment will be different. A 5 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) cutoff is the same as 2 p.m. Pacific Time (PT).

To avoid time zone-related issues and the risk of a late payment, it’s advisable to pay your bill a few days before the due date.

What happens when your bill is due on a weekend or holiday?

When your credit card bill is due on a weekend or holiday, it can still be considered on time in certain situations. If your due date falls on a day when the credit card issuer doesn’t receive or accept mail, like a Sunday or a national holiday, they won’t count a mailed payment as late if it’s received by 5 p.m. on the next business day.

Importantly, they consider the day it’s received, not the postmarked date. So, if you mail your payment before the due date but it’s delayed in the mail, it will still be deemed late.

However, if you choose to make an online or phone payment, it must be completed by the actual due date. Making an online or phone payment on the following business day will be considered late.

What happens if you miss a credit card payment?

Missing a credit card payment can lead to several consequences:

Your balance could increase (even when you don’t use the card)

Missing a minimum credit card payment can lead to an increase in your balance in a few ways:

  1. Late fees: If you don’t make your credit card payment on time, your credit card company can charge you a late fee. The amount of this fee may increase if you’re late a second time within the next six billing cycles. For instance, if you have a late payment, Capital One, for example, charges a late fee. If you’re late again within the next six billing cycles, this fee increases. However, if you make six consecutive on-time payments after the first late one, the late fee goes back to the lower amount.
  2. Interest charges: Even if you miss a payment, your credit card issuer may continue to charge interest on the unpaid balance until they receive your full payment.
  3. Interest rate increases: If you’re at least 60 days late on your payment, your card issuer might increase the interest rate on your outstanding balance. A higher interest rate means you’ll accumulate more interest on your unpaid balance, which, in turn, increases your total balance. It’s important to note that not all credit card issuers impose a penalty APR with late payments, and there may be some exceptions, so it’s a good idea to check with your specific credit card company for their policies.
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Late payments might affect your credit score

Late payments might affect your credit score because your credit report contains information about your credit, such as your payment history and the status of your credit accounts. Your credit score is calculated using this information.

You may wonder how long late payments impact your credit score. The duration can vary, but negative factors like late credit card payments can remain on your credit report for several years. Late payments can have a significant influence on your credit score, although the exact impact is hard to predict. Keep in mind that there are different types of credit scores, and each may be calculated differently, leading to variations in how late payments affect your credit score.

To manage this, it’s a good practice to regularly check your credit report. You can request free copies of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com. Additionally, Capital One offers CreditWise, which allows you to access your free TransUnion® credit report and VantageScore® 3.0 credit score without any negative impact on your credit score. CreditWise is available to everyone, not just Capital One customers.

Your account could be charged off if you fall too far behind

If you don’t make your credit card payments on time, several things can happen:

  1. Temporary purchasing restriction: If you miss payments, your credit card company may restrict your ability to make new purchases until your account is up to date.
  2. Charge-off after 180 days: If you go 180 days, or six months, without making a payment, your credit card issuer is required to close and “charge off” your account. This means they consider the debt as a loss, and the account is permanently closed. However, it’s essential to understand that you still owe the debt even though the account is closed.
  3. Contact your credit card company: If you’re struggling to make payments, it’s crucial to contact your credit card company as soon as possible. They may be willing to work with you on a repayment plan or other solutions to help you manage the debt.

In summary, missing credit card payments can lead to restrictions on new purchases and, ultimately, the closure of your account as a charge-off after 180 days. It’s important to communicate with your credit card company if you’re having difficulties with payments, as they may provide assistance.

How to prevent late credit card payments

To avoid making late credit card payments, here are some straightforward steps you can follow:

Set up autopay

The simplest and most effective way to prevent late payments is by setting up autopay. This means your credit card bill is automatically paid on the due date.

You can choose to pay the minimum amount due, the total statement balance, or another specific amount. It’s best to set it for the total statement balance to avoid interest charges, but if that’s not possible, at least set it to cover the minimum due.

Set payment reminders

If autopay isn’t your preference, you can set up payment reminders. You can use your calendar or opt for text and email alerts offered by your card issuer.

These reminders can notify you when your statement is ready, when the payment due date is approaching, when your payment has been processed, and more. Keep in mind that the availability of these options may vary depending on your card issuer.

Adjust your payment due dates

If you have multiple bills with varying due dates, it can be challenging to keep track of all of them. Consider adjusting your payment due dates to make them more convenient. Ideally, you may want to schedule them all on the same day or right after you receive your paycheck.

Consider cards with no late fees

Some credit cards, like the Citi Simplicity® Card and the Apple Card, do not charge late fees. Additionally, certain cards, like the Discover it® Cash Back, may waive your first late fee. However, keep in mind that you’ll still incur interest charges if you fail to pay your bill on time each month.

By following these steps, you can significantly reduce the risk of making late credit card payments and the associated fees and interest charges.

The bottom line

You typically won’t get a late charge on your credit card statement if you make your payment by 5 p.m. on the due date. If the due date falls on a day when the credit card company doesn’t accept mail, like weekends or holidays, you have until 5 p.m. on the next business day.

When making online payments, the card issuer might have a reasonable cut-off time for it to be considered on time. For in-person payments, the card issuer could have an earlier cut-off time, depending on when their branch or office closes for the day.