THOSE DARN LATE FEES

Physician's Money Digest, January15 2003, Volume 10, Issue 1

Pay your credit card bill late andyou not only get spanked with a latefee, you also risk being bumped intoa much higher interest-rate bracket.And—no surprise—credit card companieshave been raising their latefeecharges while quietly making itharder for you to pay on time. Adecade ago, the average grace period(from when your billing cycleends to when the bill is due) was 30days. That has shrunk to 21 days,while the average late fee has morethan doubled since 1995, to almost$29. But that's not all. One late paymentcan put you into penalty-rateterritory, where interest rates can beas high as 26%, about double theaverage interest rate.