Ask Andy: Avoiding credit card late fees - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Ask Andy: Avoiding credit card late fees

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - If you're a disciplined credit card user, pat yourself on the back and go check out my Restaurant Scorecard or Special Reports section on wmctv.com.

This story isn't aimed at you.

But if you're having trouble making your payments on time, let's have a little chat.

Look, I'm not going to be one of those people who tells you, "You shouldn't have a credit card." That's an ignorant thing to suggest, especially with the zero liability and other built-in purchase protections that credit cards provide you, especially with online purchases. In fact, you should only use credit cards when buying stuff online.

But if you're constantly late paying your credit card bill and constantly getting slapped with late fees, that's your fault. Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for BankRate.com (www.bankrate.com), said here's how you can fix it:

MAIL IN YOUR PAYMENT 10 DAYS TO TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE DUE DATE. Yes, I know that's a tall order for some of you, but it teaches discipline. It should also help improve your credit score.

Ask your credit card company to MOVE YOUR PAYMENT DATE TO RIGHT AFTER PAY DAY. As soon as you get your paycheck, you pay the bill.

ARRANGE AUTOMATIC ONLINE BILL PAYMENT. You just have to make sure the funds are there when the bank draft sweeps through.

You can also consider this, although I don't recommend it:  PAY BY PHONE by calling the card's customer service line and have them deduct the amount directly from your checking account. I don't recommend this option because you'll end up paying an extra $5 to $15 fee for the service.

If it's your first late fee, man up (or woman up) and ask your card issuer to waive the fee. Credit card companies will typically drop a late fee if you have a good payment history.

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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