Late credit card payment can hurt your credit score, but the good news is that you can recover if you take action quickly.
People make late credit card payments for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps the days got away from you, you forgot and missed the cutoff time, or you simply didn’t have enough available funds on the due date.
If you missed credit card payment by 1 day, will this affect you? How about after 15 days? A month?
Even though it’s understandable to miss a credit card payment now and again, there can still be consequences if you don’t resolve it with urgency. In this post we’ll discuss what actions you should take to fix a late payment before it becomes a serious hindrance.
What Happens When You Miss a Credit Card Payment?
Late payments on your credit card could potentially create issues for your credit in the future. No matter how late you are on your payment, a late fee is likely to be applied immediately after the payment is not received.
Other financial repercussions can also include a penalty APR (annual percentage rate) and/or a loss of rewards points, depending on the terms of your card.
In addition, your late payment could be reported to the three credit bureaus. This is what you ultimately need to avoid at all costs, which is why it’s a good idea to find a way to track your payments and make them on time, every time.
Let’s explore the consequences of a missed credit card payment.
The first thing that will happen after you miss a credit card payment is that you’ll be assessed a late fee. The fee ranges from $28 to $39, with the national average coming in at $36. It’s widely known that almost all credit card companies charge late fees.
Your credit card bill is sent to you at a minimum of 21 days before your payment is due, which means you have quite a bit of time to plan on paying your bill. When your billing cycle closes and your due date approaches, this is called the grace period.
Any purchases you make during this time will be free of interest if you pay your bill in its entirety before the due date. If you don’t pay them before the next billing cycle, you will be charged interest.
So, when is a credit card payment considered late? If you don’t pay your minimum payment on time, pay less than the minimum, or don’t pay at all, the credit card issuer will apply the late fee to your account immediately after the due date has passed.
Calculating Late Fees and Interest
These fees, while seemingly miniscule at first, can certainly add up. After all, that’s around $36 that you could have applied to your balance instead of paying an additional fee. What’s more, the late fee will accrue interest over time.
Let’s say your late fee was $30. At 29.99% ARP, it will grow to $34.79 over six months.
In general, interest will play a big role in how much you pay for your credit card bill in total. For instance, if you have a $1,000 balance, at 29.99% APR over 6 months, you’ll be paying $159.64 in interest.
The same $1,000 balance will only come out to $87.69 with a 16.93% APR, which means that acquiring credit cards with lower interest rates will help you with your payments overall. Higher APR cards also typically have higher fees associated with late payments.
If you’re only able to access credit cards with a higher APR due to your credit score, you may consider discussing your options with a credit repair professional to expand your financial possibilities.
In some cases, credit card issuers will waive late fees and penalties for a late credit card payment when you call and ask.
This is especially true if you have a good history with the company and have always made your payments on time. Sometimes things happen, and if you call your credit card issuer and explain the situation, they may help you out with a reversal on the fee.
This isn’t something that is guaranteed, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. You can also ask them to review your APR to ensure that you haven’t triggered a penalty and ask them to reverse that as well.
If they won’t reverse the APR right away, they may be willing to do so after you resolve your late credit card payments and continue making on-time payments for the next few months.
Your credit score will be affected by late credit card payments, and it could be in a big way. In fact, 35% of your FICO credit score is made up of your payment history, so it’s vital that you stay in good standing on all of your open accounts.
Generally speaking, if you missed your payment for a few days and then took care of it, it’s unlikely that the credit card issuer reported it to the 3 credit bureaus. Late credit card payments are noted on your credit report after one entire billing cycle has passed without payment— usually about 30 days.
Any late credit card payments of 30+ days will be listed on your report for up to seven years. This is a long time to have a one-off late payment on your credit report, so do everything in your power to make your payments on time.
Depending on your overall credit history, one single late payment may not make too big of an impact. If you have a very strong payment history that is almost perfect, lenders may be willing to overlook just one ding.
If your payment history is skewered with late payments and defaults, though, your credit report will take a big hit and you’ll be identified as a more risky borrower.
Your fico credit score factors in the following:
- Length of delinquencies
- Dates they occurred
- Amount(s) owed
- Number of offenses
Some creditors may even wait until the 60-day mark to report a late payment, but in any case, it’s in your best interest to resolve the late payment ASAP to avoid any hits to your credit score.
After over 60 days with a late payment, your credit card issuer could potentially increase your interest rate. The average penalty APR is 27.54%; if your credit card already has a higher interest rate, this may not apply to you.
When you enjoy the benefits of a low-interest credit card, it’s very important to maintain your payment history to avoid APR penalties. This can carry a heavy cost and a late credit card payment will increase the amount of money you end up paying in the long term.
You may lose access to your rewards as well when you have a late credit card payment. This doesn’t mean you will lose them forever, but they may be frozen until your payments are up to date.
In addition, they may charge you a fee in order to reinstate your rewards and regain access.
A One Day Late Credit Card Payment Probably Won’t Appear on Your Credit Report
It can be stressful to see a late payment fee appear on your credit card account, but the good news is that if you missed the payment by a few days, it's not likely to ding your credit report.
Take care of the payment immediately and avoid doing it again, as late fees will add up quickly and increase the total balance and length of time you'll need to pay.
When Are Late Credit Card Payments Reported?
A late credit card payment is usually reported after 30 days of missed payment. On your credit report, you will see late payment categories of 30, 60, and 90 days. The further past due your payment is, the more likely it will harm your report.
Also, if your account passes 90 days of delinquency, it could end up in collections. It's imperative to communicate with the lender so that you can avoid any further action and damage to your credit report. Do not ignore late credit card payments! They will haunt you for up to 7 years if you do.
What to Do if You Miss a Credit Card Payment
If you have a late credit card payment, don’t panic. One thing you can do is to reach out to the credit card company and discuss your options with them.
You should pay the bill as soon as possible to avoid any further action and keep the late payment off of your credit report. Let the credit card issuer know that you will be making a payment and ask them to remove any late fees in good faith to see if they can give you a break
How to Avoid Credit Card Late Fees and Penalties
Our best advice? Do not make a late credit card payment. Pay on time, every time. If staying organized and tracking your payment dates are difficult for you, note them down on a calendar, set an alarm, enroll in autopay through your bank— do what’s possible to stay on track.
When you can’t make your credit card payments, do your best to reorganize your financial situation and even consider a personal loan for debt consolidation. Talk to a credit repair specialist for the best advice.
Here are some ways you can make it easier to pay credit cards on time:
- Set up automatic payments
- Set custom due dates for payment and arrange your payments to be on the same day
- Sign up for email and/or text payment reminders
- Develop a monthly bill calendar
- Plan days to pay all of your bills and schedule payments
When you set up automatic payments, be sure that you also have enough money in your account. If the payment doesn’t go through and you forget about it, you may find yourself with multiple late credit card payments.