Credit Card Returned Payment Fees

By Jackie Lam · March 31, 2023 · 7 minute read

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Credit Card Returned Payment Fees

It goes without saying that getting hit with a credit card fee isn’t anyone’s preferred way to spend their money. If possible, you probably want to dodge those charges so you can use that cash elsewhere, perhaps putting it towards the bill itself or buying yourself a great meal.

One common type of credit card fee is a returned payment fee. This is when you get charged with a fee because your credit card payment doesn’t go through and is returned by the bank.

Fortunately, this charge can easily be avoided. Read on to learn the ropes, including:

•   What is a returned payment fee?

•   What happens if a credit card payment is returned?

•   Who charges a returned payment fee?

•   What are tips for avoiding a returned payment fee?

What Is a Returned Payment Fee?

A returned payment fee is a one-time penalty a credit card issuer charges you when a credit card payment you make online or via phone or check gets declined by the bank.

How much is a returned payment fee? If you don’t have enough funds in your bank account to cover the bill or the credit card issuer isn’t able to process your transaction for a number of reasons, you might be charged a returned payment fee of anywhere from $25 to $40 by the credit card issuer.

How Credit Card Returned Payment Fees Work

Here’s how credit card returned payment fees work: Say you set up a $200 autopay for your next monthly credit card bill, which is due on the 21st of the month. If when that date arrives, your account only has $185 in it (perhaps you had an emergency car repair to pay for), the autopay to your credit card will not go through properly since you don’t have enough money in the linked bank account. That’s when you get charged a returned payment fee, in addition to still owing the credit card company your monthly payment.

Typically, a credit card returned payment fee will be included in your next credit card statement.

Worth noting: You may well incur other fees. Your bank might charge you a separate non-sufficient funds fee. The average non-sufficient funds fee is $34.

Generally, this could impact your credit score if a returned payment doesn’t go through before your statement due date, which results in you being late on your payment or missing it altogether.

What Happens If a Credit Card Payment Is Returned?

If your credit card payment doesn’t go through due to lack of funds in your bank account or for some other reason, the credit card issuer will charge you with a returned payment fee. In some instances, they will make a second attempt to collect your payment before assessing you for this kind of fee.

What happens if the payment goes through after you are charged a returned payment fee? The credit card issuer might still charge you and collect the fee.

How Long Does It Take for a Returned Payment to Be Refunded?

You may be able to get a returned payment fee waived. This is most likely to occur if this is the first time you have missed an on-time payment.

Another scenario: Mistakes happen, and if you believe that you are wrongly or incorrectly charged for a returned payment, you can contact your credit card issuer to discuss and/or dispute the charge.

Typically, any credit card refunds appear on your statement in three to seven business days.

Recommended: What Is Credit Card Processing?

Who Charges a Returned Payment Fee?

The credit card issuer typically charges a returned payment fee. This is a separate and different charge than a non-sufficient fee, which is charged by the financial institution where you hold your account.

Types of Returned Payment Fees

In many cases, you can get hit with a returned payment on a credit card. The credit card issuer will charge this fee if there’s not enough funds in your bank account to cover the payment or if the transaction fails to go through for some other reason.

The other main type of returned payment fee is charged by a financial institution when your check bounces or you don’t have enough money in your bank to cover a transaction on your debit card. This is also known as a non-sufficient funds fee.

Beyond those fees, you might also be assessed a returned payment fee on other kinds of accounts, such as a gym that charges a recurring fee, a streaming service, or a car leasing company.

Recommended: Guide to Choosing a Credit Card

Tips for Avoiding Credit Card Returned Payment Fees

Here, some tactics to help you avoid returned payment fees from your credit card:

•   Always double-check that you have enough money in the bank to cover the payment. Some people like to keep a cash cushion in your account to help prevent overdrafts.

•   It might be wise to have a separate checking account to use on discretionary spending and another one for recurring monthly bills, such as credit card payments.

•   To make sure you stay in the green, consider moving money from your main checking account to a sub account whenever you make a charge on your credit card. For instance, if you spend $30 on dinner, then move $30 into the sub account. That way, when it’s time to make a credit card payment, the money will be ready.

•   If you’re having trouble with autopay on a credit card payment, consider making several manual payments throughout the billing cycle. For instance, split the payment in half and make two separate, manual payments.

Other Credit Card Fees

Here are other common credit card costs and fees:

•   Interest fees. If you keep a balance on your credit card, you’ll be charged interest on the outstanding balance. Your balance, plus the APR (annual percentage rate), which is the interest rate plus any tacked-on fees, can fluctuate in tandem with the prime rate, impacting how much you pay on interest on a card.

That interest (and other fees) are among the key ways that credit cards make money.

•   Annual fee. Some cards might charge an annual fee, which is billed on your anniversary month. So if you opened a credit card in March, then you’ll be charged an annual fee every March as long as you keep the card open. Some issuers might waive the credit card annual fee the first year you open your card.

•   Late fees. If you’re late on making a payment, you could get charged a late fee on your credit card. This fee depends on the credit card issuer and can be anywhere from $15 to $35 for a single charge.

•   Foreign transaction fee. If you use your card in another country or make a purchase from a company that’s not based in the U.S., you might be charged a foreign transaction fee. These fees are anywhere from 1% to 3% of the amount. Some travel cards and international credit cards don’t have a foreign transaction fee.

You might also opt for a conventional credit card that doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees, which can help you save when you’re abroad.

•   Balance transfer fee. If you’re moving the balance from one credit card to another, there’s likely a balance transfer fee. This is a one-time fee that is either a flat fee or a percentage of the transfer amount, which is anywhere from 3% to 5%. Balance transfers are usually a tactic to save on interest fees, so you’ll want to make sure the savings is greater than any fees.

The Takeaway

A credit card returned payment fee can feel like a nuisance at best and a financial strain at worst. Fortunately, with a bit of vigilance and planning on your part, returned payment fees — and credit card fees in general — can be avoided.

When shopping for a credit card, you’ll also want to see what the card offers in terms of perks. With the SoFi Credit Card, you’ll enjoy 2% unlimited cash back rewards, which you can use in a variety of ways to meet your personal and financial goals.

Spend smarter with the SoFi Credit Card.


What happens when a payment is returned?

When a payment is returned and your card card issuer is unable to process a payment, they usually charge you with a returned payment fee. In some cases, they might make a second attempt to collect the money before hitting you with a fee.

Is a returned payment a late payment?

A returned payment and a late payment are two different things and, in the case of fees, two different kinds of charges. A returned payment fee is charged when there is an issue with your payment and the payee is unable to receive the funds. If you are able to make a payment to a payee but it happens after the due date, it could result in a late payment fee on your account.

What should I do about returned credit card payments?

If a credit card payment gets returned, then you should aim to make your payment as soon as possible. Or, contact your credit card issuer if they might be able to waive it, especially if it’s your first time having this problem. Also take steps to avoid this scenario in the future.

Photo credit: iStock/FreshSplash

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