1 What Happens When You're Late | The Billfold

What Happens When You’re Late

This morning I remembered I had not been checking my “list of what’s due when” (it is a list, of what is due when), so I checked it. I discovered that my Bank of America credit card payment was due today! (My brain thought it was due sometime after the next time I get some money.) But nope: Today. The minimum payment is $56. I do not have $56 at this moment. (I will soon. But not right now.)

Up until a few weeks ago, this would not have been a thing, because: Credit cards. I could either pay the bill with billpay, which would then overdraw my checking account, triggering overdraft protection that would transfer funds from my other Visa, or I could get cash from one of my other credit cards and make a payment at a Bank of America branch. These are both stupid things to do, and I won’t be doing them anymore. Though: Not because they are stupid, but because I no longer have credit cards.

Without credit cards, my options are:
1. Wait until I have the money to pay the bill.
2. Borrow $56. 

I started to make a list of who I could borrow money from (recently used possibilities: Mike Dang, my friend Greg, my dad), but then I decided I didn’t particularly want to ask any of them for anything ever again.

So I decided to make a late payment. This is something I never do (I follow some rules). (Okay, I follow that one rule.) So: I thought I’d call the bank to see if there was anything else I could do to avoid having a late payment. My plan was three-fold:
1. To tell them to move my payment date.
2. To tell them to not tell the credit agencies I was late.
3. To waive my late fee.

Please note that I would be TELLING, not ASKING. (If you ask, they’ll say no. If you tell, they might also say no, but it will take longer.)

Anyway none of those things worked really but I learned some important lessons that I actually can’t believe I didn’t already know, considering I’ve been dealing with cards and card companies for My Entire Adult Life:
1. An estimated wait time of 5 minutes is in reality a wait time of 27 minutes.
2. A payment has to be 30 days late before they report it to the credit agencies (I’m really glad I never knew this before, because if making a payment a few days late only ["only"] resulted in a late fee, I would have done this all the time).
3. They can totally change my payment date, sure, but it will take two billing cycles to go into effect.
4. They cannot waive a fee that has not been charged yet  (what came first, the fee or the fee waiver? alskdf)
5. But I’m welcome to call back after the fee has been assessed and protest it.
6. Calling the bank to say a payment will be late is not a very productive use of time.
7.  I should probably integrate my list of what’s due when into a calendar of some sort.
8. Wanting to change your habits and writing blog posts about changing your habits are actually different then, you know, changing your habits.


5 Comments / Post A Comment

Babs Bunny (#547)

I just found out about the 30-days-until-they-report-it-to-a-credit-agency thing, too! Kinda nice to know.

Cat Ballou (#231)

I have a nosey question: are you budgeting or are you still spending basically the same way, just without credit cards?

NoReally (#45)

Re telling not asking, the phone people have a fair amount of leeway. They can cancel late fees (up to some limit in some time period) at their own mighty discretion. Ditto refusing to, and then you have to escalate to their supervisor. Their whole mission is to deal with you without pissing you off. Telling when you only need to ask is just sowing ill will.

Oh Logan! Keep fighting the good fight. I’m pulling for you. Thank you as always for your inspiring honesty.

Sarah H. (#408)

Do you know the exact date of when you’ll have the $56 for the payment? At least with my Bank of America payments, I can “make a payment” but set the effective date sometime in the future. Then, you don’t have to remember to go back and make the payment when the money is available, it’ll just go through automatically.

This can also help with negotiating the late fee – call and calmly say “I was not able to make the payment on the due date, but if you look at my records, I set the payment date for when I was able and paid the requested amount in full.” Also, if you didn’t do this in the call you already made, call back NOW and ask that they put your request for having the late fee waived in your file. Then, when you call back later you can say “It’s noted in my file that my late fee should be waived once it goes through.”

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