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WalletHub Survey: 47 million Americans expect to miss a credit card due date in 2021

Forty-seven million Americans (almost 1 in 5 adults) think they will miss at least one credit card due date in 2021, according to a new WalletHub credit cards survey released today. This indicates that cracks in the foundation of consumers’ finances are beginning to show, under the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the high level of household debt. The average American household already owes $7,800 to credit card companies. In light of that, WalletHub’s survey examined people’s experiences with late payments and their attitudes regarding the likelihood of future encounters.

Key Stats

  • More waiver attempts than last year. 16% more Americans have tried to get a credit card late fee waived compared to last year.
  • Companies are mostly helpful. 60% of Americans say their credit card company has been helpful during the pandemic.
  • Credit card issuers are forgiving…if you ask nicely. Nearly 9 in 10 people who have tried to get a credit card late fee waived were successful.
  • Mortgage worries are increasing. 36% more Americans are worried about missing a mortgage payment in 2021 than last year.

A copy of the full report can be found at https://wallethub.com/credit-cards#survey.

WalletHub Q&A

Why do so many people expect to miss credit card due dates in 2021?

“The reason that roughly 47 million people think they will miss at least one credit card due date in 2021, according to WalletHub’s latest credit card survey, is that the existing amount of debt is so large and people are under a tremendous amount of stress from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “U.S. credit card users started 2021 with close to $1 trillion in credit card debt – and that’s after some of the biggest paydowns in decades due to the COVID-19 stimulus payments. Since the pandemic is such a disruption to both everyday life and people’s finances, it’s unsurprising that the top two reasons why someone would miss a credit card payment are forgetting and not having enough money.”

What are some tips for credit card users concerned about late payments?

“People who are worried about forgetting to pay their credit card bills should enable automatic monthly bill payments from a checking account for at least the minimum amount due each month. This is an easy way to avoid late fees and credit score damage,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Naturally, automatic payments won’t solve the issue of not having enough money to pay a credit card bill. The best ways for people to make sure they have enough money are to make a strict monthly budget and to strive to put some money in savings each month. People who suddenly can’t pay due to the pandemic should ask about their issuers’ hardship plans, too.”

Is it worth asking credit card companies to waive late fees?

“Cardholders who have a consistent history of on-time payments but are unable to pay on time once in a while should absolutely ask their credit card issuers to waive late fees. There’s no downside to asking, and nearly 9 in 10 people who have asked for a waiver in the past say the issuer has granted it at least once, according to WalletHub’s new credit card survey,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Some credit cards advertise having ‘no late fees,’ but that feature can sometimes be overrated because you may be able to get that on other cards just by asking. In many cases, ‘no late fee’ actually means no fee for the first time you miss a due date, after which all bets are off.”

This article was released by WalletHub.