Do This Before You Miss a Credit Card Payment

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If you’re run up a credit card balance and can’t pay it off by the end of the month, you’re basically throwing money away in the form of interest fees.

Missing a credit card payment is not the end of the world, but it could be the beginning of several bad outcomes for your wallet. If you’re in danger of not being able to pay your credit card bill, there is something you can do to mitigate the situation before your payment is due.

Got Credit Card Bills Due? Read On

Money expert Clark Howard says the key to saving your finances is to take the initiative and reach out to your card issuer.

“Banks operate in a mode that people who contact them tend to be looked at differently than people who hide from them,” he says.

By calling your credit card company first, you may be able to defuse many of your card issuer’s concerns about you becoming a non-paying borrower.

“Who calls first when a payment hasn’t been made? It’s always the credit card companies. They scream the loudest because it’s unsecured debt,” Clark says.

To make you pay off that debt, financial institutions penalize you, and that can trigger several things — none of them good for your financial health.

Here are some negative things that happen when you renege on paying your credit card debt:

  • Late fees, which only add to your debt.
  • Higher APRs on your future credit card purchases.
  • Dings on your credit, which could lower your credit score.

That last one could have a major bearing on your purchasing power and your ability to secure financing on things like a car, home or other big purchases.

Late on Your Bills? Here’s What To Say to Your Credit Card Company

You may be wondering exactly what to say when you call your credit card company over a missed payment. Clark suggests, once again, that you be proactive. He says you should explain your situation and ask for some help.

“So you call the credit card company and say, ‘I’ve been laid off. What can we do here?’” Clark says.


If you have a strong payment history, you could ask your card issuer to:

  • Push your due date back in order to allow you to make a payment at a more favorable time of the month.
  • Lower the interest rate on your balance.
  • Allow you to skip a payment, but note that Clark wants you to avoid this if it comes with conditions.

Final Thoughts

If you’re in danger of missing a credit card payment, Clark says the best option is to pick up the phone.

“Call them and say: ‘I’m in a tough way right now. I’m hoping I’ll be back to work next month or whatever. Then I’ll be able to get these payments done,” Clark says.

In addition to saving your financial standing, taking the initiative to reach out first can foster a good relationship between you and the card issuer.

Want more expert advice that saves money? Read Clark’s 7 Rules for Using Credit Cards.

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