Credit Card Alerts: Good, Bad or Ugly?

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Some credit card companies have a service that alerts you to key events in the cycle of your credit card bill. I use these alerts for one of my credit cards and have had mixed results.

The Good

The best alerts come 7 days before the bill is due. These alerts are very helpful, just enough time to login to my online bill pay account and setup a payment for the credit card bill. I call them the best alerts because I know I haven’t spent any money yet :)

I am also alerted when my credit card payment clears or if I am late paying my bill. The late payment alert can be valuable but it can also lead to problems, more later on.

The Bad

The alerts can be setup both as automated phone messages and as text messages. At first I was receiving both. Although my cell phone plan is a great deal, it doesn’t include text messages so Sprint PCS was charging me 10 cents per alert! I quickly turned that feature off.

The Ugly

My bad experiences with the credit card alerts have been due to technical problems and my over-dependence on technology. Over time I became somewhat reliant on the 7-day alert to remind me to pay my bill.

Wouldn’t you know, one month the trusty 7-day alert never came and I completely forgot to make the payment. Of course the late payment alert saved the day. I was only a day late and able to talk the company out of the late payment fee.

This month, I received a late payment alert on Sunday afternoon. Monday morning I set up an immediate electronic payment. Later I discovered the alert was an error. They did receive my first payment so I had paid my bill twice! Of course they won’t send the money back it just goes as a credit towards future purchase. Unfortunately now I don’t have the money in the right account to pay my other credit card bill so I’ll have to do some quick cash transfers.

Verdict

Overall, the alerts have been more of a help than an issue. As long as I don’t become dependent only on the alerts to remember the payments, they are a good tool to manage my credit card payments to avoid late fees and interest charges.

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Filed Under: Credit Cards

About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.

4 comments
Brad
Brad

Can't you just set up the electronic payment the day you get the bill to be paid the day before its due. This way all you have to worry about is having enough money in your checking account.

Angie Hartford
Angie Hartford

My credit card alerts come via e-mail. Works very well for me; then I can log in and take care of the payment in just a couple of minutes. Too bad the dirty dishes can't be taken care of so easily!

BeyondtheConsumer
BeyondtheConsumer

I find the alerts helpful, but don't rely on them. The bill reminder is nice, but I've usually already paid my bill by the time they notify me about it. I keep all my billing dates in a desktop calendar on my computer.

Most useful I have found is the transaction alerts, notifying you of a certain number of transactions per day or over a certain amount, nice to help keep an eye out for fraud.

PS: Something on your site, hitstats I think, is causing severe lag.

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