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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 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 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.
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.
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.
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.