If you've got an American Express credit card, then you know these can be a fast and convenient way of paying for purchases. However, like any other credit card, you can end up with some unexpected expenses due to credit card late fees.
Want to avoid the frustration of random fees on your bill? If you have or are thinking about getting an AMEX card, you need to understand how their credit card late fees work.
Let's start by clearing a few things up. Some people assume that the phrases "late fee" and "interest" are interchangeable. The reality is that American Express interest charges are entirely separate from American Express late fees. An interest rate is the agreed upon payment you give American Express for loaning money from them. This rate is a percentage of the overall amount of money you put on the card. You usually get this charge from AMEX if you do not pay back the money on your card within your given interest-free grace period.
Late fees are different because they are not related to how much you put on the card or when you put the money on the card. Instead, a late fee is simply a flat rate you pay if you do not pay back the money you owe by the agreed upon date. Each month, American Express will send you a bill with the minimum payment due. If you do not send in the payment by the date on the bill, you owe a late fee. This late fee is added to your overall balance, and if you miss paying it, you'll have to pay interest or further late fees. Over time, a basic late fee can result in a worryingly high credit card bill.
There's a few different things that'll determine your American Express late fees.The main thing is whether or not you have been late on a payment before. The first time you're late, the fee is around $28, if you're late again, the late fee jumps up to $40. However, the amount of money you owe also makes a difference. American Express has a rule that their AMEX credit card late payment fees cannot exceed the minimum payment that was due.
The type of card you have usually does not affect late fees, so something like an American Express Gold Card late fee would be the same as an American Express Green Card late fee. However, the company does occasionally offer exclusive deals that include reduced late fees, so you should check your cardholder agreement carefully. The terms and conditions document you got when you signed up for the card will have a section titled "Fees." In this section you can see what sorts of late payment penalty fees are attached to your card.
Don't have the money to pay your late fee? The good news is that American Express does have a late fee forgiveness plan that can help. They approve late fee waivers on a case-by-case basis. AMEX has a financial relief program that can waive late fees if you are struggling due to problems like a lost job or medical expenses. As long as you are upfront about your difficulties and show you are still willing to pay back the balance eventually, they are usually happy to waive a late fee every now and then.
You can call their general customer service line at 800-528-4800 to see if you even qualify for waiving a payment. They also have a financial relief department that you can reach at 1-866-703-4169 to discuss waiving payments. Your final option for asking for late fee forgiveness is through their website. When you are logged into your account, you can use the AMEX live chat feature to speak to a customer service representative. Through this chat, you can ask for a late fee waiver. If you are low on time, Harvest can do this automatically for you.
A late fee does more than just add to the amount of money you owe American Express. Late payments also affect your credit score. Depending on your current score, a 30 day late payment can drop your score somewhere between 15 to 85 points. This can be quite inconvenient because it makes it harder to build a good credit score and get loans in the future. If you sign up for another credit card, get a car loan, or apply for a mortgage, you will find that you're being charged much higher interest rates. This drop in your credit score can occur even if American Express waives your late fee.
Ultimately, credit card late fees can be extremely annoying. They add an even higher balance to your bill, making it harder to pay in the future. They're also frustrating because they mean your credit score is dropping. If you want to avoid late fees, follow these tips:
Treat your credit card like a debit card: If possible, avoid using your AMEX card to pay for any purchase you cannot afford. Those who have the ability of using their credit card this way can ensure they always have funds to pay off their balance.
Set up autopay for your card: If your problem is that you forget to pay your bill on time, the easiest solution is autopay. This ensures your minimum payment or entire balance is paid off for each payment period.
Send yourself a payment reminder: If you are not a fan of autopay, use your phone to set up a payment alert for each month. This will keep you from forgetting to pay your bill.
If you have already been charged a late fee from American Express, you can typically negotiate them to get refunds. Not sure what to say? We can help you negotiate fees automatically.
Harvest helps increase the net worth of the 99% through artificial intelligence and financial automation. To date, Harvest has refunded over $2M in bank fees and interest charges to its members with the ultimate goal of increasing the net worth of everyday Americans by $1 trillion by 2030. Our platform starts with providing immediate relief through bank fee and interest charge refunds, orients a member's financial health with our proprietary PRO Index™, and keeps track of net worth over time aided by our suite of financial tools. Check out our 8-step guide on "How to Build Wealth from Nothing" to get started on increasing your net worth.