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Advice

When is a credit card payment considered late?

CNBC Select breaks down when a credit card payment is considered late and how you can prevent late payments.

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When you're juggling multiple bills each month, it can be easy to forget when a credit card payment is due. And if you have more than one credit card, it can be even more difficult to keep track of all the different dates. Inevitably, we all miss a bill from time to time. But how much you'll be dinged for a late payment depends on the kind of credit card you have.

Below, CNBC Select breaks down when a credit card payment is considered late and how you can prevent late payments.

When is your credit card payment considered late?

Credit card payments are due the same day and time every month, often 5 p.m. or later. A credit card payment can't be considered late if it was received by 5 p.m. on the day that it was due, according to the CARD Act.

Some card issuers may set a later due date if you pay your bill online, giving you even more time pay. For example, if you have a Chase credit card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, you have until 11:59 p.m. ET to make your payment online.

It's important to review the terms of your credit card to find out the exact cutoff time for when a payment is considered on time versus late.

Find out more about what happens when you miss a credit card payment.

Late payments vary by time zones

When you make a payment you'll often notice a time zone in the fine print. This is for cardholders who may not be in the same time zone as the credit card issuer. This is an important detail to pay attention to since it can potentially cause your payment to be considered late.

For example, if you're on the west coast, but your card issuer is based on the east coast, your late payment time is different. A 5 p.m. ET cutoff is equivalent to 2 p.m. PT.

If you're worried about time zone issues, pay your bill a few days before it's due.

What happens when your bill is due on a weekend or holiday?

If your credit card bill due date falls on a weekend or holiday, there are some circumstances where it can still be considered on time if your payment is received by the next business day.

According to the CFPB, if the due date is a day that the card issuer doesn't receive or accept mail, such as a Sunday or a national holiday, they can't consider a mailed payment as late if it was received by 5 p.m. on the next business day. Be aware that card issuers look at the day it was received, not postmarked. So even if you mail a payment before the due date, if it gets delayed in the mail, it will still be considered late.

If you make an online or phone payment, it must be done by the due date. Online and phone payments made the next business day will be considered late.

How to prevent late credit card payments

Follow the steps below to avoid late credit card payments in the future:

Set up autopay

The easiest way to prevent late payments is to set up autopay. It can take less than a minute, and you can benefit from peace of mind that your credit card payment is scheduled. Autopay can be set up for the minimum payment due, your total statement balance or another amount. We recommend setting it for your total statement balance so you avoid interest charges, but if that's not possible choose at least autopay the minimum due.

Set payment reminders

If autopay isn't for you, you can set calendar reminders or text and email alerts. Many card issuers let you opt into reminders for when your statement is available, when your payment is due in a set number of days, when your payment posts and more. Note that these options may vary by issuer.

Change your payment due date

If you have more than one bill to pay, odds are your due dates are spread out over the month. This may increase your chances of making a late payment, so it can be a good idea to adjust your payment due dates as needed. It may be beneficial to have them all on the same day or right after you get paid.

Looking for a credit card without late fees? Check out CNBC Select's Best Credit Cards with No Late Fees.

Learn more: Making only minimum payments on credit card debt could cost you thousands and take over a decade to repay and the best time to pay your credit card bill

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.