Why pay credit card bills late? ‘I forgot’

WASHINGTON — Late fees on credit card accounts are approaching nearly $40, yet 42 percent of consumers surveyed by CreditCards.com say they’ve paid their bill late at least once in the last year.

And it’s most often not because they didn’t have the money to make the payment in their checking accounts.

“The biggest reason for late payments boils down to sloppiness,” CreditCards.com’s Greg McBride told WTOP.

“The lion’s share of cases comes down to people either forgetting, they were busy, they were traveling, they are really avoidable types of late payments,” he said.

CreditCards.com’s survey found 24 percent of consumers have made a late payment on their credit card account more than once in the last year.

The survey also found a big misconception about credit card accounts.

Almost one in five card holders — 22 percent — thinks carrying a balance on a credit card account actually helps improve a credit score. That is not true.

“Credit cards are a great way to build credit, but you can do it just as effectively by putting charges on the card and then paying the balance in full at the end of the statement cycle when the bill comes,” McBride said.

“I think this is particularly important to point out because credit card rates are nearing record highs.”

Higher-wage earners, college graduates and Baby Boomers were most likely to say they’ve paid late due to carelessness.

The survey was based on online responses from 1,000 consumers aged 18 years or order conducted from June 1 through June 3.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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