Miss a Credit Card Payment Due Date? Do This Now
Even as someone who writes about personal finance for a living, I’m not immune to making money mistakes. Case in point: this past week, I nearly cost myself more than $70 by making a forgetful error. Let me explain.
When I checked my Bilt Mastercard to see when my monthly payment was due, I was surprised (and horrified) to learn that it was actually due two days prior. Ouch. Before you say it, I will admit that this is not a great look for a guy who literally two weeks ago posted an article titled “Why I Don’t Autopay My Credit Cards.”
The good news is that I was able to resolve this misstep fairly easily. So what did I do — and how did this happen in the first place?
What to Do When You Miss a Credit Card Due Date: My Recent Experience
Look, as someone with a handful of credit cards, I’m regularly logging onto the various sites to check things out. Furthermore, I know when most of the card payments are due. So, how then did this one slip through the cracks?
My theory suggests that there are a few reasons for this. First, while I have had it for a while now, my Bilt Mastercard is still the newest addition to my wallet and, thus, is one I’m not quite as familiar with in terms of the due date.
Secondly, since it’s issued by Wells Fargo, it somehow makes it easier to look over. That may seem counterintuitive as Wells is my main bank and I visit their site more than any other — but it also means that I go straight to my checking without thinking that it might be time to pay Bilt.
Finally, and most importantly, I have to blame Wells Fargo’s alerts. When I realized that I was late to pay, I looked through my email inbox (including spam and deleted) to see if I’d received a reminder. Finding none, I then went to my setting to see that, indeed, I was supposed to get one five days before my payment due date. So I’m not sure why this failed, but it did.
In any case, let’s talk about the damage. The first charge I noticed was a $25 late fee. On top of that, though, I was charged $45.72 in interest. To be honest, I actually forgot that this would be a factor since I haven’t paid credit card interest since I don’t know when (#humblebrag). So, in total, I was looking at $70.72 for my screw-up, which is a pretty darn expensive mistake.
What I did
Immediately after seeing that these charges had hit, I did something I rarely do: picked up my phone and used it as a phone. Specifically, I called the number listed on my Bilt account for card services. After making it through the phone tree, I go through to an agent.
The first thing I said was that I was calling for a favor. I then explained how I thought I had reminders on (I didn’t mention that their system might have been to blame) and accidentally missed the payment by a couple of days. Of course, I also noted that this was my first time. Anyway, after that, I just asked if there was anything they could do.
Once they confirmed by info, the operator quickly informed me that they’d be able to waive the late fee and interest charges as a “one-time courtesy.” In fact, I should see these charges reversed within a couple of business days. By the way, in the event that my history with the Bilt card itself wasn’t enough to get me this mulligan, I was prepared to mention how long I’d been a Wells Fargo customer — but his proved unnecessary.
In total, the entire call (including the phone tree prompts) lasted less than five minutes and saved me $70+. Take that, Geico gecko.
What I’m doing to not let it happen again
Having found a fatal flaw in my previous plan, I’m now making a couple of changes. First up, I’ve now added all of my credit card payment due dates to my Google and Apple calendars along with early reminders. This will help prevent me from relying on similar alerts from the issuers themselves (although those will remain on as well). Of course, I also now know exactly when my Bilt card is due, so I really don’t expect to screw that one up again.
On top of that, looking at when my dates fall, I’ve decided to make the first or second Saturday (depending on whether the first one falls on the 1st) a day when I’ll look over all of my card statements, pay them, or make plans to pay them. Hopefully, between these two adjustments, I won’t need to be calling my issuers again anytime soon.
Previously, I’d read that, if you were to accidentally make a late payment, your issuer would more than likely reverse it if it was your first time and you were otherwise in good standing. Sure enough, that was exactly my experience with my recent mess-up. But, with my one do-over redeemed, I am now making a few tweaks to what I thought was already a working system to ensure that this type of mistake doesn’t happen again.
So, should you find yourself in a similar situation, be sure to pick up the phone, be nice, and see if your issuer can cut you some slack. Hopefully, they’ll realize you’re human and be willing to help you out.