Late on a bill? Call customer service.
Calling customer service when you're late on a bill will usually eliminate the credit report ding and often eliminate the late fee, too, Hamm writes.
It seems so simple, yet it works so well.Skip to next paragraph
The Simple Dollar is a blog for those of us who need both cents and sense: people fighting debt and bad spending habits while building a financially secure future and still affording a latte or two. Our busy lives are crazy enough without having to compare five hundred mutual funds – we just want simple ways to manage our finances and save a little money.
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Sometimes a bill just falls through the cracks. We forget about paying it. We’re on a trip and don’t check our mail in time. A big unexpected insurance bill hits at the same time and we choose to pay the insurance bill first.
A bill slides up to its due date – and then past it. We’re facing a potential late fee – and possibly even a credit report ding.
What can we do?
Obviously, the best step is to pay that bill as fast as possible, but there’s another little step to take that will usually eliminate the credit report ding and often eliminate the late fee, too.
All you have to do is make a little phone call.
Just call the customer service number on your bill. Tell the customer service representative that you’re going to be a bit late with your payment, and explain why.
I’ve had to do this several times in the past. Each time, the result has been a net positive for me.
Every time I’ve done it, the customer service rep has made a note of the situation on my account so I wouldn’t be bugged by alerts related to a late payment.
Almost every time I’ve done it, my late fee has been waived. I can only think of one company that didn’t just waive the late fee. This, of course, assumed that I had the payment in the mail immediately.
If I’ve done this within a few days of being late, I’ve never seen any impact on my credit history, so there’s been no negative impact on my credit report due to being late.
Once, when I called my electric company about this, they actually ended up talking to me about switching to an annual average bill, where they average out our bills over the course of a year so that we pay the same amount each month and make up the difference at the end. This is something we tried out and found to be financially advantageous for us.
If you’re going to be a bit late on a bill, call them and tell them about it. You’ll mitigate and often eliminate the negative consequences of being late, provided you do actually pay the bill as soon as you possibly can.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on www.thesimpledollar.com.
Making a Difference