Watch Credit Card Due Dates After Your First Purchase

Recently I signed up for a well-known department store card in order to take advantage of the additional 20% discount they offered on my initial purchase. And since my initial purchase was occuring around Christmas, I decided it would be an advantageous time to do this.

I had always resisted the temptation to get this card but with prices on sale, the 20% additional discount was like robbing the place! So I went through the process and bought approximately $450 worth of items.

I was curious why I hadn’t received a statement at the end of January. I thought maybe they give you a break – but just to be sure, I set up online payments and sent $100 just to make sure my initial statement didn’t get lost in the mail. I checked my balance by phone in early February and found out I had a $100 credit. Apparently, the department store card, which is linked with a major credit card that will be left unnamed that I’ll refer to as “XXX”, keeps the 2 sides SEPARATE. I have a  balance with XXX and a separate balance for the department store.

I had inadvertently paid XXX, which was the first statement I received (statements are separate – and remember, this is ONE credit card with 2 different balances!) – my payment did NOT go toward my department store balance (the one that HAD THE PURCHASE BALANCE!). I got the department store card statement the week of February 9 and it was due February 22!!! I was out most of that week so surprise surprise when I saw the statement on Feb 16 with it’s rapidly approaching deadline! Understand something – and this catches alot of people I talk to – the due date is NOT the “mail by” date. If you mail your payment on or slightly before the due date, you will likely be LATE and pay a fee.

Do not make this mistake – and believe me, they are certainly trying to catch me and will definitely try to catch you. If you get your initial statement very close to your due date, it may be a good idea to set up online payments and make that payment (minimum at least!) immediately – this could help you avoid the late fees and possible spots on your credit.

Chris Grande

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