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Post Office Closings Could Lead to Late Credit Card PaymentsSeptember 28, 2011 - 6:00 pm
It looks like the bad economy has affected United States Post Offices. The Postal Service has announced closings at thousands of post offices and mail-handling facilities around the country. Right now, a first class letter takes between one to three days to arrive at its destination. After the closings, that time could increase by a couple of days. If you still mail your credit card payments, or any payment, the post offices closings could affect you.
You could be affected even if your local post office is still open since it’s possible that mail handling facilities between your home and the creditor’s billing location may be closed.
Due Date Rules
New Federal law says credit card issuers can only charge late fees if your payment isn’t received by 5pm on days the office doesn’t accept payments. But don’t assume this automatically gives you an extension because your due date is on the weekend. Most credit card companies accept payments (electronically) at any hour of the day any day of the week. Because of that loophole, your mailed payment needs to arrive on a day the mail is delivered to the office.
Credit card companies don’t have a grace period after your due date in which you can avoid a late fee. Instead, your payment has to be received by 5 pm on the due date. Otherwise, a late fee will be added to your payment, even if your due date falls on the weekend.
How to Avoid a Late Fee
You can avoid late fees easily in a few ways. First, you can mail your payment several days ahead of your due date, especially if your due date is on the weekend. Aim to get your payment in the office by Friday if the payment is due on a Saturday or Sunday.
The other option is to pay your account online. Most credit card issuers accept online payments now, so it’s just as easy to pay online. You can even set up recurring payments if you think you’ll forget. You might also be able to submit payment using your bank’s online bill pay. But, going through your bank might take just as long as sending a payment by mail so you still have to make sure you send your payment ahead of time.
Most credit card issuers let you make expedited payments by phone, even in your due date. However, they can assess a fee for this type of payment. The fee is typically lower than a late fee, so it’s probably worth it.