Late fees on credit cards increased nearly 6% during 2005 to more than $34 with $39 emerging as the most common fee. Over the past five years late payment fees have jumped by more than 27%. In 1995, the average fee was $13.24 compared to $34.42 today. Most top issuers will assess a higher interest rate on accounts that post a late payment. Therefore, the real pain in making late payments is not the fee but the higher rate that may be triggered. Most top issuers now charge punitive interest rates around 30%. This is why the recently released “Citibank Simplicity MasterCard,” which promotes no late fees, is a bit of joke. Citibank’s interest rate charged to delinquent and risky cardholders is now at a staggering 31.24%. If you tangle with a late payment situation, then the best advice is to call the issuer and plead your case. Believe it or not, most issuers have a kinder, gentler side than they had a few years ago.