press release

New Poll: Majority of Americans Believe Credit Card Late Fees Are Legitimate


A new survey released today found 57% of Americans believe credit card late fees are legitimate and not so-called “junk,” as some have suggested, compared to fees found in other sectors of the economy, which only between 12% to 18% of Americans found to be legitimate. The survey, commissioned by the Consumer Bankers Association (CBA), also found nearly half of Americans (48%) are unaware of the consequences associated with paying a credit card bill late, even as an overwhelmingly majority (76%) support the idea that paying on time is a personal responsibility.

Commenting on the survey results – which come as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) continues its misguided “junk fees” campaign and just days after the CFPB published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on credit card late fees in the Federal Register – CBA President and CEO Lindsey Johnson said in a new statement:

“As we all work to support hardworking families and small businesses struggling with economic headwinds, this survey confirms credit card late fees are not considered junk – they’re part of a financial framework millions of consumers rely on. In fact, Americans overwhelmingly believe credit card late fees are legitimate, as opposed to fees charged in other sectors of the economy, value the service credit card issuers provide, and accept the responsibility of being a credit cardholder and paying on time.”

Key Findings

A majority of Americans believe credit card late fees are legitimate (57%).

  • This stands in stark contrast to airline fees to select a seat or check a bag (18%), hotel resort fees (16%), or live event ticket service or convenience fees (12%).

By a 3 to 1 ratio, Americans appreciate that credit card late fees are not junk fees.

  • 76% of Americans agree (and 47% strongly agree) with the statement, “Paying on time is a personal responsibility I accept when I get a credit card. I am extended credit by the bank, and late fees are a penalty for missing a payment I agreed to pay. It’s not fair to expect that I shouldn’t be penalized, or for cardholders who pay on time to cover the costs of those who do pay on time.”
  • Only 24% of Americans (and only 8% strongly agree) with the statement, “I don’t believe credit card late fees provide a service. Credit card late fees are unfair and should not be charged at all, or at least they should be much less expensive, even if it means some consumers would lose access to credit altogether”

Nearly half of Americans mistakenly believe nothing happens if they pay their credit card bills late.

  • When asked “which of the following actions do you believe happen if you pay your credit card bill 30+ days late?” nearly half (48%) mistakenly selected “I pay a late fee and nothing else happens until my next payment is due.”
  • Of the consequences that can follow late credit card payments, survey respondents answered the following ways:
      • Only 1/3 (33%) selected “my interest rate goes up to a temporary penalty rate”
      • Less than 1/3 (31%) chose “my credit score can go down by as many as 100 points”
      • Only 26% accepted “I lose access to special offers, like introductory low or 0% interest rates”
      • Meanwhile 46% mistakenly believed “My credit score can go down a little, by 10 or fewer points”

About The Survey

The survey was conducted by ClearPath Strategies from February 24 – 28, 2023 and included 1,197 adults across the U.S., representative by geography, age, gender, education level, and race.


The CFPB on February 1, 2023, announced its NPRM on credit card late fees, outlining its proposal to drastically alter the credit card late fee landscape. Among other policy changes, the NPRM proposes to lower the safe harbor dollar amount to an $8 threshold, eliminate the annual inflation adjustment for the safe harbor amount, and cap late fees at 25% of the required minimum periodic payment. The NPRM also solicits comments on whether the CFPB should mandate a “15-day courtesy period” that would prohibit issuing late fees within 15 calendar days after each payment due date.

The NPRM was officially published in the Federal Register on March 29, 2023, which identified May 3, 2023 as the deadline for comment letters.

In response to the CFPB’s NPRM in February, Johnson explained how this proposal could negatively impact credit card users, saying in part:

“Millions of Americans rely on credit cards to make everyday purchases and cover emergency expenses. It is deeply unfortunate and puzzling that policymakers would take action that could ultimately limit consumers’ access to these valued financial products at a time when they are needed most.”

To learn read more about CBA’s response to the CFPB’s proposal, click HERE and HERE.



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