A whopping 46 million American consumers say they’re likely to miss at least one credit card due date in 2020.
A new WalletHub credit cards survey shows that the cocktail of overzealous spending and credit card dependence may be getting the best of consumers and putting them in the difficult position of determining which bills they can pay based on their monthly income.
WalletHub’s survey took a look at how consumers handle late payments and what their feelings are when it comes to leaning on plastic money going forward.
Here are the highlights of the study:
Credit card issuers are forgiving…if you ask nicely. Almost 90 percent of the consumers who asked forgiveness for missing a due date were given a pass on the late fee. Women aren’t shy about asking to get a late fee waived -- with that demographic asking about 18 percent more than men. However, women are also 2 percent less likely to get their waiver request approved.
Payment priorities change with age. The 18-44 demographic has the most worrywarts when it comes to missing credit card payments. The 45-59 demographic does most of its hand-wringing about their mortgage, and those over the age of 59 say tax payments are what makes them the illest at ease.
Luxury can lead to lapses. The more people make, the more they apparently forget. The survey shows that high-income consumers are nearly twice as likely to miss a payment due to absentmindedness as people with lower incomes.
Men and women react differently to fees. Do you feel “punished” when you’re confronted with a late fee? Of the women surveyed, 39 percent said they were more likely to feel that way than men; however, men are twice as likely to feel “indifferent.”
“The reason that roughly 46 million people expect to miss at least one credit card due date in 2020, according to WalletHub’s latest credit card survey, is that we’re stretched too thin -- in terms of both time and money,” said WalletHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou.
“U.S. credit card users started 2020 with more than $1 trillion in credit card debt. Up until this point, we’ve managed to keep our accounts in good standing at historical rates. However, expecting to miss due dates is a sign of cracks in the foundation. And not only do 18 percent of people expect to miss at least one credit card due date in 2020, but 30 percent say that not having enough money is the reason we’re most likely to be late.”
Taking the stress out of late payments
If you fall into the oh-no-not-again category when it comes to paying your credit card bill on time, there are some steps you can take to stop that slide.
“The easiest way to avoid late payments, and the fees and credit score damage that can accompany them, is to set up automatic monthly bill payments from a checking account for at least the minimum amount due each month. This will at least remove forgetfulness as a potential cause,” said WalletHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou.
“Automated payments won’t do much good if you don’t have enough money in your bank account, however. So careful budgeting and saving are key, too.”
Consider asking for help
Besides Papadimitriou’s suggestion, there’s also the credit counseling route.
Unbeknownst to most consumers, credit counseling agencies certified by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) offer free debt counseling. Whether it’s a last resort or you just feel like you need to get a grip on your credit card use, those agencies can be a good -- and understanding -- resource.
ConsumerAffairs has put together a free guide on the best credit counselors. If you ever find yourself needing some help, it might be a good place to start. You can find the guide to credit counselors here, and the guide to debt relief programs is available here.