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Don't panic, there may be a way out. Your bank or credit union may let you make an "expedited payment." Here's how it works:
You put in a request online, on the phone or in person, and your financial institution transfers the money the same day or the next day for a fee ranging from $5 to $25. Usually that's a lot lower than those hateful late fees — though not low enough to make this a routine practice either.
According to the financial research firm Javelin Strategy and Research, about two-thirds of consumers pay $20 to $50 a year or more in fees for missing these deadlines.
To date, just 18 percent of top banks — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo among them — offer the rush payments, so check yours out before you get into a jam.
Also of interest: Canceled cards and a credit score. >>
Joan Rattner Heilman writes about good deals and where to find them.