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Don’t consumers get 30 days to make bill payments?

Q. Why are bill dates all over the place? Do you or do you not still have 30 days to pay a bill after its receipt?

You receive a bill from the cable company dated the 18th of month, you receive it on the 25th, and it’s due on the 7th of the following month. You receive a phone bill on the 3d of the month and it’s due on the 12th of the following month, but needs to be paid by the 29th or it will not reflect the payment on the next bill. The charge card comes in on the 15th of the month and is due the 10th of the following month. Did we give away the 30 days to tighten up on credit card companies?

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A. The 30-day rule still applies for phone bills, but not cable or credit cards. Each has its own set of rules. State regulations apply to phone bills and cable bills, but credit cards are subject to federal law.

You are supposed to get 30 days from the time you get your telephone bill to make a payment, according to the state Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. State regulations make the assumption that you will have received the bill three days after it is mailed – that’s 33 days from when it is dated.

When it comes to cable bills, the company can considerably shorten the window. The company can set any due date as long as it is at least five business days after it is mailed. However, your bill cannot be considered delinquent as long as payment is received within 30 days of the due date, Consumer Affairs said.

The rules for credit cards are laid out in the federal CARD Act, which took effect in 2010. The law says consumers must be sent a credit card bill at least 21 days before it is due. Payments should be due on the same day each month. When a due date falls on a weekend or holiday, it is extended to the next business day.

It’s a lot to keep track of. Hopefully, this helps.

Mitch Lipka has been helping consumers out of jams for the past two decades. He lives in Worcester and also writes the Consumer Alert blog on Mitch can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mitchlipka.
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