Missing a regular payment to the creditor never goes unnoticed. For example, many have been charged a late payment fee when they could not make on-time payments. So late payment can cause unpleasant consequences. But what is the smartest thing to do in such a case?
It all depends on your circumstances and how late you are. Yet, the first reaction of someone realizing they may receive a late fee with the credit card payment is bringing at least the minimum payment to avoid complications, such as penalty APR and fees.
In case one sends money past the payment due date, a late payment fee applies to the next billing cycle. However, even then, not everything is lost. Scroll below to know all the nuances of bringing a late credit card payment and its results and how to reduce the impact of a late payment.
When is a credit card payment considered late?
To know how to handle your credit card finances, one needs to differentiate between payments on time and overdue payments. Every lender has their own requirements for paying off the owed money.
Still, there are general guidelines to navigate users across this sphere created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
So, a payment date is either proposed by a credit card issuer or chosen by the user if the card company’s policy allows it.
Whichever date stands in the credit card agreement, a creditor has no right to count the payment late if it is made before 17:00 of the stated date, with reference to the relevant time zone, which is also included in the credit card agreement document.
Important to note that a partial payment made on time is still seen as a late one because the lender didn’t get the whole sum.
If the date falls on a state holiday or Sunday, making transfers on the next business day is okay: they are considered on-time payments.
Types of late payments on a credit report
Not all kinds of late payments are treated equally. It highly depends on how long a user has paid last time, how much they owe, and whether late card payments are often made.
These often can impact your credit in different ways: a missed payment last month can get you in a bigger trouble with the score than one or two consecutive payments made years ago.
Delaying a card payment by one day or lagging on a credit card payment by one week probably won’t bring about anything too serious.
Here are the main types of late payments, based on how recent they are.
Payments 30 Days Late
We took 30-day late payments as the first category of serious late payments because repaying at least the minimum sum until it is 30 days past due saves you from having this event on your report.
Still, credit card companies can incur a late fee. For example, the fee on a first late payment usually ranges from $15 to $29 and up to $40 for users who miss another payment.
Payments 60 Days Late
Credit card issuers are bound to report it to the three major credit bureaus if payment is at least 60 days late. When they are overdue even longer than two whole billing cycles, you will see a relevant late fee warning on your credit card statement. Making a late credit card payment will also damage your credit score.
Whether a missed payment is made at least 30 days late, the notice is going to remain on the report for nearly 7 years.
Payments 90 Days Late and More
If you exceed three billing cycles in a row, expect the penalty to grow and the regular APR to go up accordingly. You will be notified through your report and online banking. After 90 or 120 days of not keeping up with bills, a credit card issuer can charge the account off or hand the matter to the collection agency.
What happens if you miss a credit card payment?
Missing a credit card payment can bring a lot of pain and discomfort. This includes having to pay fees, risking your benefits and bonuses as a credit card holder, lowering the score, and causing the exponential growth of the Annual Percentage Rate (APR).
Your balance could increase—even when you don’t use the card
One of the trickiest parts of being late with repayment is that the owed balance can grow even though you don’t use your card at all. Neglecting to pay on time or not doing it for specific reasons can cause the debt balance to go up every time you don’t pay.
Late payments might affect your credit score
Besides facing an unwanted fee, it can leave a mark on your report and drop the score. A single payment can take away up to 120 points of the FICO score.
This is going to have an effect on your credit future as well, influencing the ability to take out a mortgage, auto loan, or acquire a new credit card. In addition, users with ‘stains’ on their credit history are typically offered a worse interest rate than someone with a cleaner record.
Your account could be charged off if you fall too far behind
To explain it in a simple way, charging off one’s account means that the lending company now views your credit account as an irreversible loss, and the balance doesn’t get charged with new fees.
In the case of charge-offs, the issuer considers the borrower absolutely delinquent. This is likely if you’re late 180 days (or 6 months). Yet, the person still has to pay off the debt.
In other cases, a credit card issuer may sell charged off accounts to debt buyers or collectors. There are three ways to go when charged off: settling the debt, repaying, or discharging it through obtaining bankruptcy status.
What is the risk of late payments?
To sum up all the hazards of a missed payment or late payment, here is the list.
- A late payment could result in penalties.
Since every time the fee size grows, it makes sense to make a payment as soon as possible. Otherwise, a higher late fee plus a penalty APR will follow. A card issuer may also increase the penalty interest by up to 2% of the overdue sum, with the overall APR reaching 29.99%.
The fee size is proportional to the balance that the late payment refers to. For instance, if there is $250 on a credit card account, one late or missed payment impedes approximately a $25 fee, whereas the penalty can turn into $35 for balances with $250 and more.
- Spoiling the report.
If you pay a credit card bill late, the event will show up on your credit report. Whenever a payment is late over a month, this will appear on your credit report since creditors are to report such behavior to credit bureaus, such as Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
The notice would remain for a long time, becoming permanent and blocking the user from obtaining possible benefits either from the same creditor or other lenders.
- Blowing out one’s score.
Being closely connected with credit reports, credit scores are very vulnerable to such incidents as not sending the minimum payment on the due date. This can be especially bad for anyone working hard to rebuild the score.
- Losing promotional offers & exclusive perks.
Apart from taking out new loans or opening credit cards, a late payer might lose the chance to use lowered or 0% APR as a new borrower. This causes people to pay over the odds from the very start of using a credit card.
How a missed or late credit card payment effects your credit score
Above, we have mentioned that encountering fees makes a credit score drop. As long as you pay your balance off more than 30 days late, such payment might be reflected on the record as you are charged a fee.
When borrowers miss a payment and remember to repay in under 30 days, they will most certainly be unable to avoid late fees. Yet, the score will not suffer. For all other situations, a user will lose points of FICO (or VantageScore).
However, these losses would be different since not all factors have the same impact on how much credit scores drop.
For example, payment history weighs 35% in the FICO score and 40% in VantageScore. For both, it is true that the more days past due, the lower this number will get. What also plays a big role is the amount of overdue payment. Being in debt with larger sums can cause an immense score drop.
How to avoid credit card late fees
Sure thing, all credit card users want to skip the negative impact of delayed payment. But apple-pie order in finances doesn’t appear by itself: one needs to have an algorithm to help them not to make a late payment.
We collected the most effective tips and tricks from financial advisors and ordinary users for you to benefit from them in your own relationships with creditors.
- Opt for autopay.
For the most forgetful of us, let’s admit it: autopay would be nice. If you have a debit card, consider this as a way of paying credit card debts. Using automatic transfers to pay at least the minimum monthly amount lets you also spend less time on banking operations and avoid late fees more effectively, compared to the manual way.
- Set reminders of the date / change it.
Another method to make timely payments and prevent any damage to your credit is making the payment date memorable. Both can be set with mobile apps and conveniently configured in accordance with paycheck and income days.
- Choose one loan to pay off multiple credits.
A debt consolidation loan is indeed a game changer for those likely to repay their credit card late. It gives you a single date to consolidate all debts and improve chances for higher APRs and significant loans like mortgages.
How long do late payments stay on a credit report?
All notes about credit delays get to users’ reports through one major credit bureau or several. The older this record becomes, the less threatening it is for future loans and credit scores. Most lenders will look at fresh notes in the record.
If your card company reports at least to one bureau, the mark can remain for 6-7 years. This period starts at the first delinquent payment.
How to remove late payments from your credit report
No doubt, borrowers should learn to plan repayments to skip all the negative effects of a late payment. Still, we can sometimes be lucky to rely on the mercy of a creditor. Many credit card issuers decide to forgive delays, charging nothing.
So, if you skip a credit payment and have just realized the payment date is behind, there is a chance to waive the late fee:
Don’t wait until receiving the penalty for the credit card payment considered late. Then, repay as fast as you can. Paying your credit card bill, even a bit later, shows that you’re responsible.
- Contact your credit card company.
If you missed out for a big reason or due to serious circumstances or life events, talk to the official representative to get late fees removed. Parents with children and seniors are very likely to be forgiven if they pay late. However, this can’t become a habit.
The lender will look at the report, including your payment history, amounts owed, and time as a borrower, and, based on your credit, will inform you of the outcome.
- Be on time.
Now that you know how exactly such a payment can cause trouble and affect your credit, go above and beyond to bring monthly amounts before there is no turning back.