How Long Does a Late Credit Card Payment Stay on Your Credit Report?

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In almost all cases, even a single missed payment will hurt your credit and the damage can linger for the better part of a decade. Like most negative information, late payments can remain on your credit report for up to seven years–and it’s an ugly blemish to carry around. A foundational cornerstone of good credit, payment history accounts for 35% of your total score, more than any other individual factor. Even a single slip is bad news, but a missed payment can be manageable if you know what you’re up against. Here’s what you need to know.

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Missed Payments and Late Payments Are 2 Different Things

Credit card providers don’t report missed payments to the credit bureaus for 30 days. That one-month grace period exists to spare otherwise responsible borrowers from having their credit torpedoed over an honest mistake–it is, after all, an easy enough thing to forget.

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Although you shouldn’t make a habit of it, you can pay your credit card bill after its due date without it affecting your credit, provided you’re within the 30-day window. You can expect a late payment fee, but if it’s a one-time mistake, you can probably get that fee waived just by asking.

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When Real Trouble Is Brewing, You’ll Know It

When your payment date passes, phone calls, emails, and letters start coming quickly and become less courteous as the days tick by. After 30 days, it’s essentially impossible not to know you’re behind unless you’re trying not to know.

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If you missed a payment but you’re still within that crucial 30-day grace period, exhale. You haven’t done any real damage yet–but the clock is ticking. Call your lender right away. It’s in their interest to come to an arrangement but once a late payment is reported, there is no quick fix.

It Can Always Get Worse-Act Now

If the 30-day window closed and you were reported as delinquent, that stain will likely remain for seven years–but it’s a stain that fades quickly. Its impact will be diminished and your score will improve long before the seven years are up–provided you’re not late again. Two missed payments can trigger a penalty APR. If you miss three payments, brace for a crushing, triple-digit drop in your credit score. Anything beyond that and your lender will cast you into the abyss of collections. After six months, the account will be recorded as a charge-off, which is up there with bankruptcy and foreclosure as the scariest credit kryptonite on earth. Even if all that happens, there’s still a silver lining. Negative marks remain for seven years, but only from the time of the original delinquency.

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Last updated: May 7, 2021

About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street’s investment community in New York City.

How Long Does a Late Credit Card Payment Stay on Your Credit Report?
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