Q : I have a question regarding a creditor possibly raising rates if we are late on any bills to any other creditors.

I know that when we are 30 days or more late, that is certainly reported. How about when we pay our bill only 1 or 2 days late? Is that reported, and then a possible trigger to higher rates with other creditors?

A: Typically, payments that are less than 15 to 30 days late are not reported as “late” to the credit reporting bureaus. And yes, getting reported as late on one bill can trigger the penalty. APR interest rates that are sky high.

So, why take a chance? There’s no excuse for being 1 or 2 days late. In addition to giving you a headache, you’ll still have to pay finance charges and a late fee that can be more than $40.

If you’re having trouble getting your bills paid on time, it’s time to let electronic banking work its magic for you.

Go to your credit card company’s site and sign up for the smart check option. Essentially, you can input your checking account number, and then each month, you can log online and direct the company to automatically deduct the amount that is due out of your bank account.

It takes about 30 seconds to pay your bill this way, and most credit cards will credit your account immediately with the electronic transfer. Not only will you save yourself the late fees and finance charges, but you’ll also pocket the 37 cents you would have spent on the stamp.

Is it safe to do this? I’ve been paying my credit card bills this way for years and it’s always worked. Just make sure you print out (or copy into your desktop calendar) the confirmation number for the transaction, in case something does go wrong.

Published: March 21, 2005