Dear Savvy Smithie…

Vivian Li ’14
Managing Editor

Susan Brunelle ‘AC
Contributing Writer

What are some tips to avoid late payment fees for credit cards?

Most credit card companies charge penalty fees if you don’t make your payment on time. These are several tips that you can use to prevent this late charge.

1. Arrange for an automatic payment.

Some banks have programs where you can arrange an autopay to pay for your expenses. That way, you won’t forget your deadlines and you won’t need to go through the hassle of making scheduled payments. However, you need to make sure that you have enough in your bank accounts or you will be subject to various fees and damage to your credit score.

2. Note the cut-off time for payments.

Remember to check your company’s cut-off time for recording payments. If you can’t make it by the deadline, call your issuer to see if you have any other options. It is usually recommended to make your credit card payment a few days before the deadline to allow processing time.

3. Change your payment due date.

Some card issuers will allow you to change the payment due date – if you ask. If cash shortfall is an issue, try setting the due date after you receive your paycheck.

4. Waive the late payment fee.

Generally, if you have good credit standing and have good payment records, you may be able to get the late fee waived. While not every company has this policy, it is worth calling to see if you can negotiate the late payment fee.

Source:Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Bankrate

Should I use all the available credit on my credit cards?

If you have a credit card that has, for example, a $1,000 limit, you want to make sure that you never exceed that limit. If you do, it will make your credit score go down drastically. The best advice is to keep your balance used on your cards to 50 percent of the availability or less. This will keep your credit score in good standing. If you currently are maxed out or have a high balance and are not in the position to pay it down, you can call your credit card company and see if they will raise the limit. But keep in mind that this is to help your credit score; resist the urge to use that extra credit that they make available.

Source: CreditSesame

Dear Saavy Smithie is supported by the Center for Women & Financial Independence (WFI), which aims to enable students to manage their own financial wellbeing. Have questions about personal finance? Send them to wfi@smith.edu. WFI is located at Neilson Archway, next to Neilson Library.

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