Will One Late Payment Wreck My Credit Score?

Photo (cc) by meddygarnet

You’re looking through your bank statements and realize that you’ve missed a credit card payment. Or money’s tight, so you’ve decided this month’s payment will have to be delayed.

Whether intentional or unintentional, nothing good comes from late credit card payments.

What happens to your credit score?

Depending on your card issuer, it may cut you some slack and give you time to get caught up. Here are a few other potential consequences:

  • Reports to credit bureaus. Once 30 or 60 days have passed, your late payment will be reported to the credit bureaus and will remain on your credit report for seven years.
  • Fees, fees and more fees! Be prepared to get hit with a late-payment fee of as much as $35 as soon as you miss the deadline. You may also be assessed a penalty APR, which will not revert back to normal until six months have lapsed in which you have made timely payments. And please note that this higher APR will still apply even if you are participating in a promotional period with lower interest.
  • Plummeting credit score. Your payment history accounts for 35 percent of your credit score. Unfortunately, the higher your credit score, the more drastic the effect of a late payment, for reasons explained in this myFICO.com post. Sound like a doozy? If you have credit monitoring, clear the haze and navigate your way to the credit analyzer tool to determine the effect of one late payment on your score. You can also check out Credit Karma’s Credit Score Simulator.
  • Lenders beware. If you attempt to apply for credit elsewhere, lenders may hand you a rejection slip because of the potential risk you pose.

What should you do next?

So, you may be wondering what your options are if a payment is late. You definitely want to take the following actions:

  • Get caught up on past-due balances as soon as possible. Having a hard time freeing up funds? Analyze your current spending, eliminate any nonessential expenses, and reallocate the funds to the delinquent balances.
  • Call and plead your case. Emphasize your past responsible payment habits and ask the credit card issuer to remove the late fee and penalty APR. Also, request that they contact the credit bureaus so the information will not appear in your credit file.
  • Disclose financial hardships. If money’s tight and you find yourself cutting it close each month, notify the lender. Many lenders are willing to work out a debt repayment plan so that you can more easily meet your monthly obligations.
  • Get help! Set up a budget and integrate automatic payments and reminders. Check out these resources on our site to help you get started.

Over time, the side effects of a late payment will diminish. I know from experience how painful this can be, as I watched my credit score plummet by 90 points about six years ago because I failed to remit a payment for $12.15. Although it was a billing error and I was certain that no balance existed on the card, I ultimately ended up paying the price even after the fee was reversed.

And even if you are dealing with a company outside of a credit card issuer that has never reported your poor payment behavior in the past, don’t take it as a free pass to continue acting irresponsibly or you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Unreported information will not impact your credit score, but beware that different creditors have internal evaluating systems that may consider payment habits when evaluating accounts for lower APRs, credit limit increases, and other perks along those lines.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
2 Costly Rewards Credit Card Mistakes — and How to Fix Them
2 Costly Rewards Credit Card Mistakes — and How to Fix Them

If you commit either of these credit card sins, you are likely losing money every time you use a card. Here’s how to easily right this wrong.

26 Work-From-Home Jobs That Pay $100,000
26 Work-From-Home Jobs That Pay $100,000

These lucrative gigs let you work in your slippers.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

8 Things You Can Buy for $1 or Less on Amazon
8 Things You Can Buy for $1 or Less on Amazon

They say you get what you pay for — but not always. Sometimes, you can uncover a good deal at a great price.

13 Affordable Products for a Better Night’s Rest
13 Affordable Products for a Better Night’s Rest

These Amazon products can help you finally catch 40 winks — or more.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Seniors With COVID-19 May Display This Unusual Symptom
Seniors With COVID-19 May Display This Unusual Symptom

Largely asymptomatic seniors may experience a symptom not commonly associated with the coronavirus.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?
Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?

Understanding survivors benefits rules is the key to getting the most from your benefit.

18 Early Black Friday Deals on Amazon Today
18 Early Black Friday Deals on Amazon Today

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation
These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation

Two types of vehicles are especially likely to see steep plunges in value.

Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card
Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card

Credit cards offer many conveniences and protections, but sometimes it’s simply smarter to keep the plastic tucked away.

13 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s
10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

8 Surprising Household Items You Can Sell for Fast Cash
8 Surprising Household Items You Can Sell for Fast Cash

Sometimes, the humblest household items are worth the most money.

Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early
Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early

Like the idea of financial independence? Part of the FIRE equation is cutting costs.

5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021
5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021

These adjustments will affect both workers and retirees in the new year.

Stop Buying These 19 Things Online
Stop Buying These 19 Things Online

The internet has changed how we shop. But for some things, you’re still better off buying the old-fashioned way.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

There are easy high-paying majors available in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required. We’re here to help you find easy degrees that pay well.

11 ‘Disposable’ Items You Should Be Reusing
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores

You don’t have to be a chef or a restaurant owner to shop here.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing emergency food supply. Is your pantry well-prepared for emergencies? Knowing what to stock up on for emergencies can be a difficult task and we’re here to help.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.