ear Liz: As a customer service representative for a credit card company, I enjoy your articles on the credit card industry. But I wish you would do an article from the credit card companies’ point of view. While I agree that many credit card practices are unfair, a lot of the customers I speak to are oblivious to basic credit card rules. Many people do not understand why they cannot charge on an account that has not been paid in three months, or why they get a late fee when they fail to pay on time. Just like a store raising prices to cover the cost of shoplifting, credit card companies make their policies based on their worst customers, not their best ones. If you are a great customer and usually pay on time, just call and the fee may be waived. Credit cards are a confusing business. You are good at helping consumers know their rights, but I think they need to know their responsibilities.
Answer: Your point is well taken. Paying on time is an important responsibility, and one that became easier with the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, which banned arbitrary deadlines, such as considering late a payment that arrives after 1 p.m. on the due date. (Any payment received by 5 p.m. on the due date is now considered to be on time.)
Card issuers also are now required to mail statements at least 21 days before the due date (up from 14) and to make the due date the same day each month, rather than moving it from month to month. If the date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or banking holiday, the due date is moved to the next business day. These rules should make it easier for responsible users to avoid late fees.