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We’ve all been there: Things get hectic, your mind is in a million places, and you forget to pay your credit card bill by its due date. It’s understandable — everyone makes mistakes.
Unfortunately, this particular mistake could have serious consequences. Not only will you get hit with a late fee, you could also do damage to your credit score. So what’s a busy person to do? Here are seven tips for paying your credit card bill on time, every time — no matter what.
1. Make a budget
Some people have a hard time paying bills by their due dates because they aren’t sure where the money to do so will come from. Keeping a written budget will help solve this problem. If you know exactly how much money is coming in and there’s a plan for how every dollar will be spent, you’ll have the money waiting in your checking account when your credit card bill comes due. Try our budget worksheet to see your current overall spending habits.
2. Track your spending
After you’ve established your budget, it’s important to keep track of how you’re doing. Keep tabs on your spending throughout the month to be sure that you’re staying within the spending parameters you set for yourself.
To do this, you can log into your credit card account online every couple of days, use one of the many popular budgeting apps, or simply hold onto your receipts. It’s up to you, but be sure to choose a system you can stick to.
3. Mark your calendar
Whether you’re using an old-fashioned paper calendar or the one provided through your email service, marking it with your credit card bill’s due date is a smart idea. This way, you’ll have a visual reminder or email notification when it’s time to make a payment.
4. Lean on technology
Your credit card issuer will likely provide you with free text and/or email alerts of your bill’s due date. You’ll have to go online and opt into this – it won’t happen automatically. But with a few simple clicks of the mouse, you can have your choice of reminder delivered right to your smartphone every month. What could be easier?
5. Consider auto pay
If you’d prefer a more hands-off approach to keeping up with your credit card bill, signing up for automatic payments might be just the ticket. With this service, your credit card company will automatically make your monthly payments for you using your linked checking account. Again, you’ll have to opt-in, but it’s an easy way to never have to worry about making a late payment again.
One word of caution: Auto pay is a good option for people who make a salary that’s reliably available every month. If your income is irregular or you simply don’t keep much in your checking account, you’ll need to monitor your balance to be sure that a credit card auto payment doesn’t send you into overdraft.
6. Check in frequently
If you decide that auto pay isn’t for you, another idea is to get into the habit of checking your credit card’s online account frequently. If you’re logging in every day or every other day, you probably won’t miss a billing due date. After all, “payment due” is usually prominently displayed on the screen when it’s time to cough up the cash.
Checking your card’s online account will also serve the dual purpose of helping you track your spending (see above), so this strategy is a win-win.
7. Move your due date
If you’re struggling to make your credit card payment on time because its due date doesn’t coincide with when you’re paid, call up your issuer and see if you can move it. Most are flexible about this, and some even allow you to select your own due date online. Remember, your credit card company wants to get paid, so it’s in their best interest to make this as easy for you as possible!
Credit card bill payment image via Shutterstock