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Ask Creditnet: Don't Rely on USPS as Payment Reminder

Dear Creditnet: I recently began helping an elderly neighbor pay his bills. One credit card statement arrived today and indicated that his payment is due in just 18 days. They also request that it be mailed at least 7 to 10 days in advance to avoid a late payment fee, so that only gives him 11 days to cut a check and get it in the mail. This just doesn't sound right to me. Am I wrong?

Answer: I wish my grandparents had a neighbor like you. Kudos for lending a helping hand. Your neighbor's credit issuer will need to receive payment by the due date or they will most likely charge a late fee and begin charging interest on the existing balance as well. That's why they're suggesting you send payment at least a week or so in advance.

Unfortunately, the mail can be quite slow sometimes.

Now, according to the Credit CARD Act of 2009, credit card companies must provide at least 21 days to pay your bill after the statement has been mailed or delivered. And although this may seem like a short time period, it used to be just 14 days, so it's definitely an improvement over the past. It appears that in your case the credit card company may have beat the 21-day mark and is in compliance with the new law.

That is, unless you can verify that the statement wasn't mailed at least 3 days before it showed up in your neighbor's mailbox. I realize your elderly neighbor may love the good old USPS, but relying on the snail mail is a really bad idea when managing credit cards. It's just too risky. Perhaps you can help your neighbor set up online access for his credit cards and then autopay the bills online? That way he'll never have to worry again about a statement getting delayed or lost somewhere in the mail.

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Joshua Heckathorn's picture

Joshua Heckathorn is a credit expert and has been featured on CNNMoney, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, The Street, and many other national publications during the past twenty years.  He received a Bachelor of Science in Management (Finance) from Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Business and earned his MBA from Seattle University.

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Fixed Rate Savings's picture

I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks!