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Can My Credit Card Company Keep Billing Me a Late Fee On a Late Fee?

Written by Steve Rhode

Question:

Dear Steve,

Yes I was late 4 months in paying off my American Express card. Paid full balance and interest to the fired agency. They took the payment on the last day of the cycle and did not get it to American Express in time and they charged me a late fee.

Over the next 12+ months I kept getting a bill that adds an additional late fee now over $400 and when I tried to pay American Express they claim it was in hands of their collection agency and when I call them, they claim it is an American Express issue.

They have been increasing my balance on a late fee charge, I paid the entire amount no writeoffs, I thought fed guidelines prevent these agencies from raising the balance charging a fee on top of fee on top of a fee. I know that my bank can’t charge an overdraft fee if their monthly fee overdraws my account.

After the entire debt has been paid to collection agency, no charge off or settle, can they keep sending a bill for a late fee charge, and add one month after month. Balance is made up entirely by late fee.

Al

Answer:

Dear Al,

If you have proof of what day and time you made the payment and they received it, that late fee could have been removed. Under the CARD Act “Credit card bills must be due on the same date each month and payments received by 5:00 p.m. on the due date must be treated as timely.”

Late fees may be charged on any outstanding balance where a portion of that balance is delinquent. The initial late fee is limited to $25 but subsequent months can be up to $35. So if you have a balance that consists of the previous months late fee(s) and you never paid the bill off in full, then an additional late fee could be added. The key here is if the terms of your account at the time allowed you to make a partial payment of at least the stated minimum payment.

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Late fees and interest do not stop unless you pay the bill in full before the due date.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has this question on their site which is a little similar.

You’ve got two choices at this point. You can spend as much time as it takes to try and go back and unwind that original payment you made if you have proof the payment was receive before the cutoff time on that date, or you can pay the full balance due, close this chapter, and then focus on rebuilding your credit.

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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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