Late Payment Fees

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Avoid late-payment fees. These are penalties, typically $30 or more, charged by your lender when you don't make a loan or credit card payment on time. One way to prevent late fees is to arrange, at no charge, for an automatic withdrawal from your checking account to cover these and certain other recurring expenses (such as a utility or insurance bill). The automatic debiting of your account also takes the hassle out of making scheduled payments and saves on postage. However, be sure to record these automatic payments in your checkbook, said FDIC attorney Susan van den Toorn. "If you don't," she cautioned, "you might end up accidentally overdrawing your checking account and subjecting yourself to fines and damage to your credit score."
It is also possible to pay your loan or credit card bill online, but it's recommended that you pay about two days before the due date to be sure it is processed on time. Also know your financial institution's cut-off time for recording payments each day. If you're bumping up against the deadline and you can't pay online, consider calling your card company and asking for other options, such as providing bank account information to authorize an electronic fund transfer from your checking account. "Even though there may be a small service charge for these options, it will likely be less than a late-payment fee," said Kirk Daniels, a supervisor in the FDIC's consumer affairs section.
Should you pay the old-fashioned way -- by regular mail -- allow enough time for delivery and processing by sending your payment about a week before the deadline.

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