I have a store credit card that I’ve had for at least two years. I’ve paid it in full every month and have never been late. I was just recently late on a bill that was about $100. I paid half of it prior to the due date and the remaining balance about two days after the due date and got hit with a late charge. Would it be OK to dispute the late charge?
— K. Nixon, Nashville, TN

You absolutely can and should call and ask the store to waive this rare late charge. You have a great case, and it should want to retain you as a loyal customer who handles credit responsibly.

If you have a major credit card (such as MasterCard or American Express), consider paying off any remaining balance on your store card and closing the account if they refuse to waive the fee. You can always use your major credit card to shop, and the interest rates charged on store credit cards are usually much higher, anyway.

If your credit is good (680 or above), the company will be less likely to risk losing you as a customer. It will also be easier for you to get a major credit card with a lower interest rate, if you don’t already have one. You can get a free report once a year from www.annualcredit report.com.

Mail your consumer empowerment questions to Ask Your Advocate, BLACK ENTERPRISE, 130 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011 or send an e — mail to sykest@blackenterprise.com.