Not only does paying bills late affect your credit score, it also costs you in late fees and other penalties. If you have the cash to pay, but you still find yourself paying late, consider the following methods to get your bills paid on time:
- Read the payment instructions. If you forget to include your account number on the check or pay on a holiday, the payment might not be processed by the due date.
- At minimum, pay the minimum. Even if you can’t pay the full balance, at least pay the minimum to keep the account in good standing.
- Automate payments. Today you can sign up for automatic payments for most bills, including utilities, credit cards, and more. The accounts are linked to your credit card or checking account, and the bill is automatically paid before or on the due date.
- Batch your bills. Switch the due dates for all of your bills so that they’re all due on the same day or a range of a few days. That way you’ll only have to pay bills once a month, and you won’t run the risk of spending your paycheck and forgetting that the electric bill hasn’t been paid.
- Use online alerts. Personal finance applications like MoneyStream and Mint will alert you to upcoming bill due dates.
It’s important to understand that paying off a credit account will not remove the history from your credit report – it stays on your report for seven years. Nevertheless, both good history and bad history count toward calculating your score, so the longer you build good history by paying your bills on time, the higher your score will go.
For more ideas on how to improve your financial life, download the free Managing Debt to Improve Your Mental Wealth ebook.
This article was written by Kim McGrigg and was originally published in November, 2011.