The best credit cards with no late fees are the PenFed Promise Card, the Citi Simplicity Card, and the Apple Credit Card because none of them charge late fees or penalty APRs, and all of them have $0 annual fees. Or, some credit cards out there don’t charge a late fee for the first late payment. All Discover cards fall into this category, for example. However, the promise of no late fees seems to come with less rewards in many cases.
The Citi Simplicity card doesn’t have late fees, a penalty APR or rewards. Its best feature is a 21-month 0% APR on balance transfers. This perk comes with a balance transfer fee of 5% (min $5), however, and the card’s regular APR can be higher than the average credit card’s penalty APR. So you'll want to make sure you can pay off the transfer before the intro period ends.
The PenFed Promise Card requires excellent credit and advertises no late fees, penalty APRs, balance transfer fees, over-limit fees, or cash advance APR. Plus, spend $1,500 within 90 days of account opening, and you’ll grab a $100 signup bonus. But there’s no 0% purchase APR period, and there are no ongoing rewards.
The new Apple Credit Card has no fees at all. It also comes with its own Apple-branded rewards system: 3% “Daily Cash” back on Apple products and Apple Store purchases (including in-app purchases), 2% on Apple Pay purchases, and 1% on everything else. Apple’s “Daily Cash” can be used with Apple Pay, among other things. That said, balance transfers aren’t allowed, there’s no intro APR period, and if you happen to make “unauthorized modifications” to your iPhone, Apple can close your credit account.
It’s worth noting that a late fee isn’t the worst thing about being late on a credit card payment. Late fees can be steep, but late credit card payments can also get reported to the credit bureaus. A payment that’s 30 days late – meaning you’ve missed two due dates – could have a significant impact on your credit score. That’s true even if you have excellent credit and you’ve never missed a payment in your life. A missed payment stays on your report for 7 years, though your score should gradually bounce back, depending on the rest of your financial picture.
Ultimately, instead of searching for a card with no late fees, perhaps focus on never missing a payment. Setting up autopay is easy, and as long as you pay the minimum amount required by the due date, you won’t get hit with a late fee. Issuers will usually waive the first late fee anyway if you call and ask.
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