How Do Consumers Avoid Penalty Fees? Evidence From Credit Cards
70 Pages Posted: 1 May 2017 Last revised: 24 Apr 2018
Date Written: April 15, 2018
Consumer heterogeneity in adopting account management features of financial products, such as automatic repayments, is important for understanding how some consumers avoid financial mistakes. Using detailed data from multiple card issuers we show that credit card late payment fees decline sharply over the first few months of card life. This may suggest that consumers learn to remember to repay on time, but we show that memory does not drive this decline in fees. Instead, it is wholly due to consumers switching to automatic payments – thereby avoiding the need to remember to repay altogether. Not all consumers make this switch. Those who continue with manual payments and rely on memory to repay on time see the likelihood of future fees unchanged at 20% per month.
Keywords: credit cards, penalty fees, automatic payments, direct deposit
JEL Classification: D10, D12, D4, G21
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