Paying a credit card on the due date? Don't wait until the afternoon.

One day, I predict, a bank will go too far with their fees, and there will be some measurable backlash, where there will start becoming a trend of people more commonly putting their money in credit unions or under their mattress. We're not there yet, but apparently Bank of America is trying to speed up that day.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has an interesting story about one Greg Fischer, a consumer who paid his September Bank of America credit card payment through his bank's web site. He paid on the deadline day.

However, his bank said that he was late anyway. Why? He paid at 4:10 in the afternoon, past a 3:30 p.m. cut-off that he wasn't aware of, a cut-off, I'm sure, that's buried somewhere in legalese on his credit card statement or on the credit card's web site.

He's out more than just a late fee. Since he was late with a payment in April, his interest rate doubled to 28.99 percent. He was told that the bank wouldn't consider lowering the fee until he had paid on time for six months. Now if you do the math, April to September is six months straight. Nice timing.

So I have a suggestion to credit cards and credit card users. If you're a credit card user, and you often do pay your bill around the deadline day, you may want to dial up customer service and see if there's a certain hour and minute you need to make your payment by. If you're a credit card company, you'd probably engender a lot of goodwill if you'd simply jot down a time on the bill, whether it's 3:30 p.m. or 10:14 a.m., right next to the words that say "Due Date."

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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