Missing a credit card payment can lead to unnecessary late fees, additional interest, damaged credit, and more. If you are concerned about the risk of missing a credit card payment, this guide is for you! Keep reading to learn more about the consequences of missing one or more payments—and how to avoid them in the future.
My Payment Is Late—What Can I Do?
Missing a credit card payment can be stressful. Instead of spending time feeling bad about it or doing nothing at all, the best thing to do is to act right away to remedy the situation. Here are some things you can do to avoid penalty annual percentage rates (APRs), late fees, and negative impacts on your credit score.
Pay the Bill Immediately
As soon as you realized you have missed a due date, try to pay the bill immediately. Consider covering at least the minimum amount due on the statement—if you pay this before it is 30 days late, you may not need to worry about any impact on your credit score.
Even though there is no guarantee that your missed payment won’t be reported before 30 days, it is worth trying to correct the issue before then. Likewise, most cards charge daily interest, so the sooner you pay off your balance, the better!
Ask For a Fee Waiver
You may notice a late fee charged to your account when you miss a payment. If so, pay off the balance and call the card issuer immediately and ask for a fee waiver.
If you explain that it was an accident—and can show that you already made the payment—the issuer may be willing to refund the late fee or interest charges. Again, there is no guarantee that this will work, since the issuer is not obligated to waive any fees, but many financial institutions will do so if you are polite and sincere.
Remember that card issuers want you to remain a customer and pay your bills, so if this is not a recurring issue, they may be willing to waive the late fee as a courtesy.
Here’s What to Expect If You Miss Payments
You may be wondering what to expect if you miss payments? The answer to this question will vary depending on how late the bill is. Let’s dive into a few different scenarios.
What Happens After 30 Days
When your bill is 30 days overdue, interest and a late fee will likely be added to your minimum payment. In addition, if you had a promotional APR applied to your account, it could be revoked. If this happens, the interest on your card could balloon to the maximum allowed rate and be retroactively applied to the entire original purchase.
Most late fees range from $25 to $35 for the first occurrence—additional late payments may be subject to even higher fees.
The card issuer may report a missed payment to the credit reporting agencies at the 30-day mark, but this can vary depending on the financial institution.
What Happens After 60 Days
After your payment is 60 days late, you will be hit with another late fee and even a penalty APR that is even higher than the regular interest rate. You will need to read your credit card agreement to determine the amount of the second late fee and whether a penalty APR will apply.
At this point, the lender will report your missed payments to the credit bureaus, which will negatively impact your credit score.
What Happens When You Don’t Pay Your Credit Card
So, what happens if you still don’t pay your credit card bill?
Prepare to start receiving calls and mail about your late payments. The credit card company will try to reach out to collect the amounts owed as soon as possible, but eventually, they will sell the debt to a collection agency.
By now your bill will be significantly higher than what you originally owed due to late fees and higher interest rates. After six months of non-payment, the company will no longer negotiate, and you can be subject to litigation or even wage garnishment. The card issuer can also close the account completely.
How Does Missing a Payment Affect My Credit Score?
When you don’t pay your minimum balance on time, it can affect your credit score.
If a late payment is reported to the credit bureaus, it can stay on your history for up to seven years. However, most credit card companies will wait for an entire billing cycle—up to 30 days—before they notify the agencies of a late payment.
Each subsequent late payment can also be reported and will harm your credit score. For example, your credit report can show 30, 60, 90, and 120 days past due. Even if you end up paying the card later, this negative payment history will remain on record. After 180 days, the lender can move the account to collections, which will have an even more severe impact on your credit score.
You may be able to work with the debt collector to pay the bill and improve your standing, but that likely will not repair the damage done to your credit.
How to Avoid Missing Credit Card Payments
Missing a credit card payment can negatively impact your credit and leave you with additional fees and interest to pay—so, how can you keep that from happening? Here are a few strategies to help you avoid missing payments.
Build Up an
Building up an emergency fund is a great way to avoid getting into credit card debt. Saving money in an account that you can draw from to cover unexpected expenses can help you avoid late and missed payments.
The amount you can save each month will vary based on your income, but you should strive to save enough to cover three to six months of expenses. Similarly, you should only use these funds for emergencies—and replenish the account as soon as you can!
Enroll in Automatic Payments
Perhaps the best way to ensure that you never miss a credit card payment is to enroll in automatic payments. When you set up autopay, the credit card company will automatically pay the bill using the bank account you supplied.
You can choose to pay the balance in full, the minimum payment, or a set dollar amount. Regardless of which option you select, make sure that you have enough funds in the account they will be drawing from!
If you don’t want to set up automatic payments, you can choose to enroll in email or text notifications. These will remind you when your bill is due—and how much is owed—so that you never forget to make a payment.
Make Multiple Payments Each Month
Sometimes it can be difficult to make payments when it feels like everything is due on the same day. Or maybe your pay dates don’t align with when your credit card payment is due. You can try to work with your lender to request a new payment date, but another option is to make several payments each month.
If you pay your bill throughout the month, you can ensure that you cover at least the minimum payment. This will help you avoid late payments and, if your finances allow, then you can pay off the difference over the remainder of the next month.
As you can see, missing a credit card payment can result in several negative consequences. Even just one missed payment can damage your credit score and force you to pay additional fees, so you must try to avoid late payments at all costs!
The main variable that will determine the severity of the negative impact is how many days your payment is late. If it is less than 30 days past due, you may get away with just a late fee and an extra interest payment.
However, the longer your account is not current, the more severe the consequences! Failing to make a payment for more than 30 days will result in a remark on your credit report. This will cause your credit score to drop and can stay on your history for up to seven years!
Make sure that you have enough funds to cover your credit card bills and keep up with your budget so you are not surprised by the amount due. If you are short on cash, try to set limits on your credit card spending so that you can avoid late fees and extra interest.
Paying off the balance in full is always the best option, but if you can’t do that, make sure you cover at least the minimum. This will keep your account current and ensure you remain in good standing with the card issuer.
Lastly, if you miss a payment, don’t just give up and let the account remain delinquent! Pay it as soon as you can to work toward getting your credit score back on track—you will see an improvement in no time.
If you are having a hard time making payments on your credit card each month, consider applying for a balance transfer card with no penalty rates. This can help you consolidate your payments and keep any more interest from accruing, so you can pay the balance down once and for all.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions related to missing a credit card payment.
Can I Still Use My Credit Card If I Miss a Payment?
If you have not paid your bill on time, you may not have access to your credit line until the account is current. These terms will vary based on the card issuer, so check your credit agreement to see if you can still use the card for new purchases. Note that if your account is past due for more than 180 days, the credit card issuer will close the account and charge off the balance.
Is There a Grace Period for Credit Card Payments?
The grace period for credit card payments is the time between the end of your billing cycle and your payment due date. If you pay your entire balance during this time frame, you generally won’t be charged interest on any new purchases.
What Happens If I Am Three Days Late on My Credit Card Payment?
Although every late payment can be reported to the credit bureaus and affect your score, there is a good chance that won’t happen if a payment is only three days late. You will likely still incur a late fee, but paying the bill right away might help you any credit score impact.
What Happens If I Miss One Credit Card Payment?
When you miss one credit card payment, you will most likely owe interest on those charges and a late fee. If the bill is 30 days late, most creditors will report it to the credit bureaus, which will hurt your credit score. If this happens, make sure to pay the balance right away and avoid any future missed payments!
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