- Personal Finance»
- Managing Credit Cards & Payment Options
How Do I Make Payments on my Card?
I am assuming that the card in question is a credit card. With a credit card the card company gives you a line of credit with a limit. You can charge up to the limit on the card, but don't go over the limit as most credit cards will assess an over limit fee that can be anywhere from $15 to $35 or more.
You will receive a bill from the card company once a month listing the charges you have made and telling you when the payment is due, what the total balance on the account is if you want to pay the account in full and avoid finance charges and what the minimum payment amount is if you do not want to pay the balance in full that month.
It is always a good idea to pay the full amount so as to avoid finance charges which can be as much as 20% or more. The finance charge will be added to the bill for the next month and will further reduce the amount of credit left which you can charge against. Also, if you have charged almost up to your credit limit, when the finance charge is added it might put you over the limit in which case you will have an additional over limit fee added to the balance (as stated above the over limit fee can range anywhere from $15 to $35 or more).
It is important to remember that the due date is the date on which the payment has to be at the processing center where the payments are processed. This center is frequently in another city or state so be sure to send your payment sufficiently in advance of the due date to make sure it arrives on or before the due date. If it is late you will have a late fee, which can also range from $15 to $35 or more.
You can usually pay your bill in any of the following ways:
- Mail it in. Your bill will come in the mail with a return envelope and detachable payment stub. Write the amount you are paying on the stub, write a check for the same amount and place both in the envelope. Most places use window envelopes so make sure that the payment stub and check are placed in the envelope in a way that leaves the address you are sending your payment to clearly visible - this will prevent it from being returned to you or simply lost in the mail. It is also a good idea to write the last four digits of your credit card account number on the check. In this way if the check and stub get separated at the processing center it will be easier to identify your check and post it to your account and not someone else's by accident. DO NOT include your full account number, just the last four digits, as the last four digits plus your name on the check will be sufficient for the card company to locate your account but will not be sufficient for anyone else who handles the check along the line to get your full account number and gain access to your credit card account.
- Make the payment in person at the issuing store or bank. In most cases you can make your payment at the bank or store that issued the card. If it is a store credit card take your payment to the credit department in the store and if it is a bank card take it to one of the tellers in a branch. Most card issuers will allow you to pay in person but some won't so check sufficiently before the due date so that if they don't accept payments at these locations you still have time to mail the payment. ALSO, even though the bank or store may let you pay at their location, they often do not have the capability to post the payment and credit your account on the spot but, rather, send it by courier with other materials to the processing center. Again, unless you know that they will credit your account immediately, pay the bill in sufficient time to allow for it to travel to the service center.
- With some bank cards you can put your check and payment stub in an envelope and drop it in the night depository box outside the bank after hours. Again, check in advance and verify that your bank will accept payments in this manner. Don't leave this until the last minute as some will not credit your payment until the next business day and that may be past the due date.
- Some banks will also let you make your payment on their bank credit card via an ATM machine. Like the night depository, first make sure that they will accept your payment this way and also check to see if your account is credited when you put it into the ATM or not until the next business day.
- Most banks and stores have websites and many allow you to pay at their website on line. This requires that you first register on their site and, in some cases you many have to wait a couple of days or more between registering and making your first payment in this manner. When paying on line you will have to provide them with your checking account information and they will transfer the payment from your checking account to the credit card account. Most of the time there is no service charge for paying on line but some places do levy a one or two dollar charge for this service. Also, most have a cut off time after which payments are not credited until the next business day. If the site says that it will give same day credit to payments made before 4 p.m. then you not only have to make sure you make your payment on line before 4 p.m. but before 4 p.m. in THEIR time zone (if they are in New York and you are making the payment in California there is a three hour difference so you have to make the payment on line by 1 p.m. California in order to meet their 4 p.m. New York time.
- Finally, most banks now offer free on line bill pay in which you can list all of your creditors and then simply enter the amount due next to each one each month and the bank will automatically draw money from your account and pay each one