The whopping cost of paying your bills late

Tips for avoiding late fees

When you’re trying to get by on a low income or Centrelink benefits, finding the cash for paying your bills can be tough.

But as a new survey reveals – the cost of NOT paying them can be much worse.

Aussies stung by late fees

  • Missing the due date can cost you a lot more than you bargained for.
  • In the past year, Aussies have been hit with a staggering $286 million in late fees on everything from their electricity and gas through to phone and credit card bills.

No excuse will cut it

  • Life is busy, and cash is tight.
  • And while our reasons for missing our bill due dates range from “I forgot”, or “I didn’t have the cash” and “I lost the bill” – our providers don’t care.
  • The average late fee charged for missed payments is a whopping $24 – per bill!

Late fees are big business

  • Missed the due date on your Energy Australia or Origin energy bill? That’ll be an extra $12, thanks.
  • The news is worse for Telstra and Optus customers. They’re stung with a $15 late fee for missing a bill due date.

The biggest offenders

So, who’s paying these late fees?

  • Those aged around 35 – 50 years old are the biggest culprits, racking up nearly half of all the late fees paid last year.
  • Customers aged from around 20 – 35 paid over $88 million in late fees, while the over 50s paid over $45 million.

Become organised when paying your bills!

  • Apparently more than 60% of Aussies rate themselves as ‘very organised’ with regards to paying their bills.
  • But over 30% of us confess to missing or forgetting due dates. 2% are honest enough to admit they often forget.

How to avoid late fees

  • Opting for the direct debit option with your bill provider is a sure-fire way to make sure you’re paying your bills on time.
  • However, you do need to ensure that you have sufficient funds available on the due date – or you’ll end up being charged dishonour fees.
  • Embracing electronic billing can also be a good option. Apps like BPay View, Bill Tracker and CommBanks’ Photo-a-Bill let you organise and automate your bill payments.
  • These can be a great way of staying organised when paying your bills and avoiding late fees.

What if I don’t have the cash?

  • Honesty is always the best policy. Ignoring your bills is only going to make the problem worse.
  • If a bill due date is fast approaching and you know you won’t have the cash to pay it – contact your provider.
  • Be proactive and honest with them. Explain your circumstances and ask them for solutions, such as setting up a repayment plan.
  • Your honest and proactive approach should help avoid late fees and penalties, and prevent a black mark on your credit report.