Your payment is to arrive by due date, not to be mailed

Q. I pay my bills by mail. My due date is the first of the month and I have a 10-day period before they charge a late fee. I always mail my check by the tenth day. The company has begun charging me interest and a late fee. How can I be charged a late fee if I can prove my payment was mailed before the due date?

A. First, the “due date” for your payment is the first of the month. That is the date it expects to receive payment. The 10 days are a “grace period” to give you time to remit your payment so it can be received before any penalties are imposed. Payment due means payment arrives, not that it is mailed. You chose to mail your payment, and you are responsible for insuring that it arrives before the end of the grace period. 

The simple way to avoid any penalties is to mail your check promptly after your receive your bill. In my opinion, an even better way is to arrange to make your payments online. Almost every company has a way to pay your bill online.

Q. I co-signed for someone who bought a car. He stopped paying and I had to pay $3,000 to settle the account. Can I recover this money from the person I co-signed for?

A. When you co-sign, you must pay in the event the person you co-signee does not. If you do not pay, it can adversely affect your credit rating and you could even be sued. 

If you pay, however, the law gives you the right to be reimbursed by the other party. I suggest you speak with the person for whom you co-signed, and if you can’t work things out, send him or her a certified letter asking for payment. If you still are not reimbursed, file a claim in justice court.

In my opinion, you should never co-sign unless you are ready and able to pay. When a creditor asks for a co-signer, he is basically saying he has doubts that the other person will pay and wants a co-signer as a guarantor. As a co-signer, you should have the same doubts, and consider the consequences when the person for whom you co-signed defaults.

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