5 Tips for Avoiding Late Fees

Americans owed a whopping $14.5 billion in late fees in 2022, a significant spike compared with previous years, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And that was just due to late payments on their credit cards! But there are many other places that can threaten to ping you if you don’t meet their designated financial deadlines. They may include:

  • Hospitals
  • Utilities
  • Car loans
  • Other lenders
  • Home mortgage payments

One of the best strategies for avoiding them is to know when you’re most at risk of owing late fees so you can either plan accordingly or reconsider your financial decisions.

1. Ask for Details of Any Financial Agreement

Some companies don’t charge late fees at all. Others might charge small fees after a grace period, and still others have scary penalties built into contracts that should be a red flag to any concerned shopper.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of financial penalties when you don’t know what the rules are in the first place. By reading the fine print and asking questions, you will learn important terms that let you know about the risks so you can compare with more favorable offers. In any agreement that involves money, you should look for several things that could impact your wallet:

Fee amount

Always find out whether there are late fees and how much they are.

Clear due dates

Get clear on when precisely a fee will be added.

Any interest

Could there be any interest on fees or late payments, and does it accrue over time?

Grace period

Particularly if you’re a few days late, there might be a grace period during which you won’t be charged a late fee. It never hurts to ask for a fee to be waived, either.

Contract duration

Once you’re locked into terms that include fees, be sure you know how long that contract will last.

Future adjustments

Are the terms subject to change, and if so, when? It’s important to know if and when a deal with attractive terms could roll over into a less favorable deal.

Your rights and responsibilities

Be clear you get the full picture of what is financially expected of you, as well as rights that could help you out in a pinch.

2. Consider Using Electronic Bill Payment

Community Currency Exchanges help customers pay their bills on time for a whole range of companies through electronic bill payment programs. By signing on to this service, you no longer have to worry about deadlines or late payments, as long as you can cover the bills. These kinds of places include:

  • Cable companies
  • Electric companies
  • Cell phone providers
  • Water and gas
  • Mortgage companies

Electronic bill payment through a Currency Exchange can be helpful for anyone in charge of a household who sometimes feels overwhelmed by the sheer number of different monthly expenses, all with different deadlines.

3. Replace Your Credit Card with a Prepaid Debit Card

Generally, late fees don’t add up with prepaid debit cards like they do with credit cards since you’re limited to spending money you already have. A credit card might still be a good thing to have when it comes to certain larger and necessary expenses, as well as building up your credit score. But if avoiding financial penalties is your goal, getting a prepaid card at your nearest Currency Exchange is a quick and easy payment solution.

4. Set Up a Contingency Budget

A contingency budget is a great idea for people who don’t have a lot of extra cash on hand to deal with the costs related to unexpected events in their lives. And not nearly enough families have them. They can be helpful in the case of a medical emergency, but also for smaller money problems. When you’re hit with an unexpectedly high bill, dipping into that contingency budget might be just what you need to make the deadline and avoid an even higher bill later on.

5. Take Advantage of Local Currency Exchanges in Illinois and Beyond

Currency Exchanges throughout the Midwest don’t just offer many of the above financial services for people who want to save more of their hard-earned dollars. We also handle your most pressing car-related needs, from city stickers and license plate renewals to titles and registration.

Stop by your nearest location to take advantage of our financial and auto-related programs that are all under one roof! Also, check out Community Currency Exchange (CCEA) online to find out what else we can do to keep your finances in tip top shape this year.

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With over 350 locations, many open nights, weekends, and holidays (and several stores with 24/7 availability), you can rest easy knowing your financial needs can be taken care of when you need them most. We’re in the heart of every community. Don’t believe us? See for yourself.