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How Long Does a Late Credit Card Payment Affect Your Credit Score?

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Jessica Merritt
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Jessica Merritt

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A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little ca...
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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A late payment can have long-reaching effects on your credit score, remaining on your credit report for up to 7 years. You can expect a late payment on your credit report to negatively affect your credit score for as long as it’s on your credit report, though the effect should lessen over time. 

Generally, a late payment on your credit report will drop your credit score by at least 20 points. But if you have great credit, you might see a score drop as high as about 80 points — just for 1 late payment.

A late payment can have a huge effect on your credit score. It can drop your credit score to a lower range, which could make it difficult to qualify for the best credit cards, loans, and other products intended for consumers with good to excellent credit. 

But don’t panic — missing a credit card payment by 1 day won’t wreck your financial life. Even though you’ll pay a late fee right away, there’s a grace period for reporting late payments on your credit report. You have some time to fix your mistake and make at least the minimum payment before a late payment affects your credit score.

When Is Your Credit Card Payment Late?

For most credit cards, your credit card payment is due between 21 to 25 days after your statement closing date. The time between your statement closing date and your card’s due date is known as a grace period.

Check your monthly statement to find your credit card’s due date. If you’re getting right down to the line on payments, read the fine print on exactly when your payment is considered late.

Some credit card companies may consider a payment late if you make your payment after 5 p.m. on the due date. If the due date is a Sunday or holiday, it may be 5 p.m. the next business day.

After your statement due date passes, your credit card payment is considered late. You’ll be charged a late payment fee when your credit card payment is late and may face other penalties. Some credit cards charge no late fees or waive your first late fee. 

While your credit card payment is considered late by the credit card issuer as soon as you miss the payment due date, it’s only reported as late to the credit card bureaus when it’s 30 days past due.

For example, if your payment due date is January 1st and you make the payment on January 5th, it’s just between you and the credit card company to work out penalties — usually a late fee, interest charges, and loss of any promotional APR. If February 1st rolls around and you still haven’t made a payment, then the late payment will appear on your credit report.

If you’re concerned about late payments, it’s a good idea to make your payment at least a few days before your card’s due date. 

If you slip up and miss a payment, you can call your credit card issuer to ask them to waive the late fee. You might get some forgiveness if you have a history of on-time payments and can make up the missed payment immediately.

Hot Tip: Late fees add to your balance and can make it tough to stay on track with credit card payments. Learn how to avoid late fees and other credit card fees in our guide to credit card fees.

What Happens When Your Credit Card Payment Is Late?

Immediately after your credit card payment is late, your account is subject to penalties, including:

  • A late fee, which is generally around $30. This fee may increase if you frequently miss payments. However, some credit cards waive your first late fee or don’t have late fees at all.
  • Loss of a promotional APR, such as a 0% introductory rate on purchases or balance transfers.
  • Collection activity, such as phone calls, texts, and emails reminding you that your payment is past due.

After a payment is more than 30 days late, the penalties become more severe:

  • Your late payment is reported to the credit bureaus and will affect your credit score.
  • At 60 days late, the issuer may impose a penalty APR.
  • At 90 days late, your account may be charged off and sent to a collection agency. It’s even more likely if your account reaches 120+ days late.

What To Do if Your Credit Card Payment Is Late

Couple discussing credit card bills
Make plans to handle your late credit card payment ASAP. Image Credit: ivanko80 on Adobe Stock

If you missed a credit card payment, take these steps:

  • Pay the minimum ASAP, at least before your payment is 30 days late
  • Ask your credit card issuer to waive the late fee
  • Avoid making another late payment — you can set up autopay to avoid making a late payment in the future
  • Make arrangements with the credit card issuer or transfer your balance if you can’t manage payments

When Does a Late Payment Affect Your Credit Score?

While penalties for a late payment on your credit card can come down immediately after you miss a payment, you won’t see the late payment hit your credit report quite so fast. The good news is late credit card payments aren’t added to your credit report unless your payment is 30 days late

Your credit card’s reporting date is the date your account information is reported to the 3 credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. On the reporting date, the credit card issuer will tell the credit bureaus your account balance and whether your account is current or late. The reporting date is generally 30 days after the payment due date, which offers some time between a late payment and credit reporting of the late payment.

This late credit card payment grace period on your credit report can give you time to fix a mistake. Maybe you were traveling and forgot to take care of bills on time, or you’ve had a temporary hiccup in your finances that made it tough to pay your credit card bill by the due date. None of that will show up on your credit report as long as you can make that payment before it’s 30 days past due.

That means if you missed your credit card payment by 1 day or even 7 days, all you have to do is make the payment at least 30 days before it’s past due to avoid a late payment on your credit report. 

But there’s good reason to make up the late payment as soon as you possibly can. For one, credit card interest generally compounds daily, so the longer you carry a balance, the more interest charges you’ll rack up and have to pay later. 

And if you were hoping to ask the credit card issuer to waive your late fee or any other penalties, your chances of getting those requests honored will go down each day your payment continues to be late.

Once your late payment hits 30 days late, it will show up on your credit report as a late payment. The late payment will stay on your credit report for up to 7 years and can have a high impact on your credit score. It will hurt your credit score less as time goes on, assuming you don’t continue to make late payments.

How Does a Late Credit Card Payment Affect Your Credit Score?

FICO Score
Payment history is the most influential factor for your FICO credit score. Image Credit: Experian

A late credit card payment can have a profound effect on your credit score, dropping your score by about 20 to 80 points overnight as soon as it hits your credit report. Payment history is the most dominant factor in credit scoring models, so it’s no surprise that a late payment can make a big difference in your credit score.

Payment history is the most important factor for your FICO credit score, making up 35% of your score. It’s followed in importance by amounts owed, the length of your credit history, credit mix, and new credit.

With VantageScore, payment history is even more important, making up 41% of your VantageScore in the latest model. Depth of credit and credit utilization count for 20% each, and recent credit, balances, and available credit are less important factors.

While a late payment can dent your credit score, you can still have good credit even if you’ve missed a payment once or twice over the years. If you have an overall good credit history, your years of on-time payments and other responsible credit habits can outweigh the effect of occasional late payments.

Conversely, if you miss multiple payments in a row or have missed payments on multiple accounts, the effect on your credit score will be more severe.

How Much Does a Late Payment Affect Your Credit Score?

A late credit card payment’s impact on your credit score depends on your credit profile. But in general, you can expect a single late payment on your credit report to drop your score by 20 to 80 points.

FICO has a breakdown of simulated scores based on credit actions, including late payments:

SCROLL FOR MORE

In general, the better your credit, the harder your score will be hit by a late payment. In FICO’s example, we see a consumer with a 793 credit score drop to 710 to 730 with just 1 late payment — that’s a 63- to 83-point loss. It would take this consumer from very good credit to just good on FICO’s score range scale.

If you’re starting out with a lower credit score, you’ll see less of an impact from a single late payment. From FICO’s example, if you started out with a 607 credit score, your score would fall to 570 to 590 after a late payment — a 17- to 37-point drop. While it’s a less severe penalty, it may drop this consumer into the poor credit range of 580 or lower.

The longer you miss payments, the worse your score will get. We see the 793 score drop down to 660 to 680 after missing a payment for 90 days. That’s 113 to 133 points lower and drops the consumer from very good credit to potentially in the fair credit range of 580 to 669.

On the 607 score, a 90-day missed payment lowers the score to 560 to 580. That 27- to 47-point drop from a 90-day missed payment brings that consumer’s score down to the poor credit range.

How Long Does a Late Payment Affect Your Credit Score?

A late payment can stay on your credit report for up to 7 years, and it can affect your credit score for as long as it remains on your report. 

However, as your late payment ages, it should have less of an effect on your credit score. A late payment within the last year or so will have a greater impact on your credit score than a late payment from 5 years ago. The 7-year period starts as soon as your payment is reported late. 

You’ll need to keep making on-time payments during this period to avoid further damaging your credit score. Frequently making late payments can have a further negative effect on your credit score and make it difficult to bounce back.

Bottom Line: Creditors want to know you’ll pay your bills on time, so payment history is a huge factor in your credit score. A late payment now and then won’t completely tank your credit score, but you should do whatever you can to avoid making late payments a habit.

How To Fix Your Credit Score After a Late Credit Card Payment

If you have a late credit card payment on your credit report, it’s time to hit recovery mode. There’s plenty of room for credit score recovery after a late payment on a credit card.

Before 30 Days Late

The first step you can take happens before the late payment hits your credit report. In the 30-day period before your late payment is reported to the credit bureaus, get in touch with your credit card issuer

If you can make the payment during this time, go ahead and do it. That way, you’ll completely avoid the late payment hitting your credit report. 

If you can’t make the payment before it’s 30 days past due, talk to the issuer about your options. The issuer may be able to offer you a payment plan or other options that can help you keep your account current. You may have additional options if you’re facing a temporary setback such as unemployment.

After 30 Days Late

Once a late payment hits your credit report, you have some cleaning up to do. You can contact your credit card issuer for credit card late payment forgiveness. When you ask for late payment forgiveness, you should write a goodwill letter that outlines your customer history, especially if you have a track record of otherwise on-time payments.

You can also negotiate with the credit card issuer, asking to remove the late payment report if you get current or pay your bill in full.

Late Payment Errors

What if the late payment on your credit report is an error? You have more options in that case.

First, reach out to the credit card issuer that reported the erroneous late payment. Offer evidence that your payment was made on time, such as a payment confirmation or a transaction on your bank account showing the payment. 

If you can’t get anywhere with the credit card issuer, take it to the credit bureaus. You can dispute incorrect credit report information with all 3 credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

When you submit your dispute with the credit bureau, share your evidence again. The credit bureau will investigate your dispute and update you on the status of the investigation. 

Hot Tip: You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the 3 credit bureaus once every year. That’s in addition to credit cards that offer free access to your credit score.

How To Avoid Late Payments

Late payments have a negative effect on both your short and long-term financial health. Late fees, interest charges, penalty APR, and negative items on your credit report all spell trouble for your money and are best avoided. 

Use these tips to help avoid late payments — or at least to ensure you’re not getting a late payment mark on your credit report.

  • Check Your Budget: You’ll eventually have to pay anything you charge to your credit card. Look before you leap and only make charges that are within your budget to pay on time.
  • Check Your Payment Date: Look at your statement each month and note the payment due date. Also, check what time the payment is due on the due date.
  • Set a Reminder To Pay: Add a note to your calendar and set up alerts on your phone or computer to remind you to pay your credit card bill on time.
  • Pay at Least the Minimum Payment: Even if you can’t pay your full statement balance each month, at least make the minimum payment. When you make the minimum payment on time, your credit card payment won’t be considered late. It’s always better to make even just the minimum payment and carry a balance than miss the payment entirely.
  • Use Autopay Options: Credit cards generally offer the option to set up automatic payments on your account. You can set it to autopay the minimum as a failsafe, even if you plan to pay your balance in full by the due date. That way, if you forget to pay on time, you’ll at least have the minimum payment and your payment won’t be considered late.
  • Use Payment Alerts: You usually have the option to sign up for payment alerts that can help you remember to make your credit card payment on time. These alerts may be via text, email, or app, and can remind you when your payment is due. Also, keep an eye out for communication informing you that you’ve missed a payment so you can make it up quickly.
  • Adjust Your Payment Due Date: If you’re having a hard time making payments on a certain date, ask to move the date. Credit card issuers will generally allow you to change your payment date to one that works better for you.
  • Pay Bills Consistently: Stick to paying your bills on the same days each month so it becomes a habit. You’ll be less likely to forget credit card bills if you’re on a consistent schedule. 
  • Get Help if You Can’t Pay: If you know you’ll miss a payment and can’t make the minimum payment, talk to the credit card issuer about your payment arrangement options before the payment due date. For debt that’s unmanageable in the long term, consider debt management options such as a balance transfer credit card or personal loan.
  • Get a Break on Late Fees: Some credit cards don’t charge late fees. But these cards will still charge interest on your balance and report late payments to the credit bureaus, so you should always make up the late payment as soon as you can even if there are no fees involved.

Final Thoughts

A late payment can do serious damage to your credit score in as few as 30 days after you miss the payment. While you have that 30-day cushion before a late payment impacts your credit, those days can go fast — and you’ll rack up interest charges and late fees the whole time — so it’s a good idea to make up the payment as soon as possible.

Plan to make at least the minimum payment before your credit card’s due date. Failing that, at least plan to pay it before it’s 30 days late so you can avoid having the late payment on your credit report. And if you can’t, reach out before the due date to ask the credit card issuer for your options — or make your own with a balance transfer or personal loan to manage debt.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is a credit card payment considered late?

A credit card payment is considered late if you haven’t paid at least the minimum payment by your credit card statement due date. There’s a specific time cut-off on your due date for some credit cards, so check the fine print for your card.

While a credit card payment is late after the due date, a late credit card payment won’t be reflected on your credit report until it’s at least 30 days late. That means even if your payment is considered late by the credit card issuer, you still have time to make the payment before it hits your credit report.

Is there a grace period for late credit card payments?

There is a 30-day grace period for late credit card payments on your credit report. Although late payment fees and other penalties apply right away from your credit card issuer, your late payment won’t be reported to the credit bureaus until it’s at least 30 days late.

I missed my credit card payment by 1 day, what happens?

If you’ve missed your credit card payment by 1 day, you’ll face a late payment fee from your credit card issuer. You’ll also start racking up interest charges for carrying a balance. The credit card company may start collection activity, such as emails, phone calls, and texts to inform you that your payment is late.

When is a payment considered 30 days late on a credit card?

A payment is considered 30 days late on a credit card once 30 days have passed from your statement’s payment due date.

How much will my credit score increase if late payments are removed?

Your credit score can take a hit of about 20 to 80 points if you have a late payment on your credit report. For a 90-day late payment, the penalty is even higher — about 25 to 130 points. If you’re able to remove late payments from your credit report through a credit reporting dispute or negotiation, you could improve your credit score by as much as about 20 to 130 points.

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About Jessica Merritt

A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little cash as possible.

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