Don’t fall into the holiday debt trap!

Your holiday bills have piled up rapidly and you may be feeling like the debt spiral is knocking at your door. The following tips will help you pay off your credit cards as quickly as possible.

  • Dec. 24, 2008 10:00 a.m.

(NC)—Your holiday bills have piled up rapidly and you may be feeling like the debt spiral is knocking at your door. The following tips will help you pay off your credit cards as quickly as possible.

Start the year off right and don’t wait until the due date before making your payments, otherwise you could be in store for unpleasant surprises. Even if you make your payment on the due date, it could be considered late because of processing delays and you could have to pay additional charges. You should know that processing time varies according to the method and date of payment you choose.

•By mail: Allow four to five business days for your bill payment to reach the billing agent. Your billing agent will usually deposit your cheque on the date it is received and will consider that you have paid it on that date, unless the cheque is post-dated.

•At a teller: The teller will stamp the date on the payment stub. The payment is usually considered to have been made on the date indicated, provided it is made before approximately 3 p.m. on a business day.

•At an automated banking machine: If your bill payments automatically appear on the screen you will be considered to have made your payment on that day. If you deposit the stub in an envelope, allow one or two business days.

•By telephone or Internet: If you make a payment during business hours, you are considered to have made your bill payment on that date. If you pay after hours (on a weekend, holiday or after approximately 3 p.m.), your credit card payment will be considered as having been paid on the next business day.

•By pre-authorized payment: Your bill payment will be made on the due date indicated on your statement. The billing agent will withdraw the funds directly from your bank account on that day.

No matter your preferred method of payment, if you make your payment the day before a holiday or weekend, you should do it early in order for the payment to be processed by the due date.

To find out how long it will take to process your payments, ask your billing agent about their processing policies. Some companies consider a bill to be paid when they receive payment. However, it may take up to three days for them to receive the payment.

To learn more about financial matters, visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) Web site at moneytools.ca or call toll-free at 1-866-461-3222. FCAC is a federal agency that provides consumers with information about financial products and services.