When you take out a loan or use a credit card, you agree to specific terms, including the loan amount, credit limit, interest rate and payment due date. When you make a late payment, you may receive a negative mark on your credit report.
This negative information on your credit file can result in higher interest rates, difficulty securing financing or lenders requiring larger down payments.
So, how long do late payments stay on your credit report? In this guide, we’ll answer that question and more.
How long do late payments stay on your credit report?
A late credit card payment stays on your credit report for seven years. Since payment history makes up 35% of your credit score, even a single late payment can make a significant impact.
Not all late payments have the same impact, though. Most creditors place late payments in one of the following categories, according to MyFICO:
- 30 days late
- 60 days late
- 90 days late
- 120 days late
- 150 days late
- Charge off
Creditors base the countdown on each 30-day increment after your due date. For example, if your payment is due September 1, it won’t fall into the “30 days late” category until 30 days after September 1.
With each passing 30-day increment, a late payment’s negative impact on your credit score worsens. A charge off has the worst impact, as it means the original creditor has written off the debt as a loss and likely sold it to a collection agency.
A late payment stays on your credit report for seven years. The clock on those seven years starts from the original delinquency date.
How much does a late payment impact your credit score?
Your payment history is the most important factor when calculating your credit score. But there’s no fixed number of points your credit score will drop due to a late payment. However, if you have an excellent credit score, the impact could be more significant.
A single late payment can result in your excellent credit score dropping to a fair or poor score, according to Experian. If you already have bad credit, a late payment won’t make much of a difference.
A late payment also has less of an impact on your credit score as time passes. This is especially true if you quickly bring the credit account current and make on-time payments.
What happens when you make a late payment?
When you make a late payment, there are several potential consequences, including higher interest rates, account closure and repossession.
Higher interest rates
Some credit cards and loans include penalty interest. This is a higher interest rate the lender applies temporarily when you break the loan or credit card terms. Late payments may result in the lender or credit card issuer applying the penalty interest rate.
There are, however, ways to avoid these late fees. And the lender or credit card company will revert to the original interest rate after you make on-time payments for a predetermined period.
Because a late payment is breaking terms you agreed to, you risk the creditor closing your account. Generally, a creditor won’t close your account until you’re seriously delinquent, typically 90 days or more.
A closed account — especially if it’s one of your oldest accounts — can impact your length of credit history, which makes up 15% of your FICO credit score.
Auto loans and mortgages are typically secured by the value of the vehicle or home. If you become seriously delinquent on a secured credit account, the creditor may repossess the property and liquidate it to pay off some or all of the debt you owe.
A home lender can’t start the foreclosure process until the mortgage payment is 120 days late.
As for an auto loan and most other secured loans, the repossession process can start from the first day your payment is late. However, most creditors will attempt to bring the account current for a few months before repossessing the property.
Can you remove late payments from your credit report?
If you end up with a late payment on your credit report, there are ways to delete them. You can dispute the late payment, write a goodwill adjustment letter or negotiate a pay-for-delete agreement.
Disputing a late payment
If a creditor reports an illegitimate late payment to one or more of the major credit bureaus (Experian, Transunion or Equifax), you can dispute it.
You can file a dispute with each credit bureau online or mail a dispute letter. If you have documents supporting your claim, such as an image of the cashed check or another record of the payment, include it with your dispute.
Writing a goodwill adjustment letter
You can ask the creditor to forgive the late payment and remove it from your credit history by mailing a goodwill adjustment letter. Your goodwill letter should include:
- The reason for your late payment
- A promise to keep the account in good standing
- A request to forgive the late payment and remove it from your credit report
Send this letter to your creditor. If your creditor agrees to your request, it will delete the negative item from your credit report. Always get an agreement in writing to ensure the lender holds up its end.
Negotiating a pay-for-delete agreement
A lender may be willing to delete a late payment from your credit report if you agree to pay a certain amount. Not every lender will do this, but it’s worth speaking to a representative to see if it’s an option.
If the company is open to a pay-for-delete agreement, follow their process for this negotiation. Typically, you’ll write a letter with your offer, which can be full debt repayment or repaying your past balance. In exchange, the creditor deletes the negative mark from your credit report.
Pay for delete is generally for collection accounts, but some creditors may accept it to avoid charging off your debt and selling it to a collection agency.
Like the goodwill adjustment, make sure to get confirmation of this agreement in writing.
What can you do if you think you’ll make a late payment?
When a late loan or credit card payment is inevitable, contact your lender or the credit card company as soon as possible. The creditor may have options to help you avoid a late payment on your credit report. Some options may include:
- Extended grace period
- Loan modification
- Late payment forgiveness
If you tend to forget your payment due dates, prevent this by signing up for text, email or mobile app notifications.
You can go a step further by scheduling automatic payments via the lender’s website or mobile app. If the creditor doesn’t offer autopay, you can schedule automatic payments through your bank account.
Can you monitor your credit report for late payments?
You can get free credit reports from various credit monitoring websites to check for late payments, missing payments and other negative information.
However, these free credit monitoring sites come with limitations. Many don’t offer reports from all main credit bureaus, so you may have to sign up for multiple accounts to access these credit reports.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that all three major credit bureaus provide you with one free credit report per year. You can get this report through a credit reporting agency or website like AnnualCreditReport.com.
You can recover from late payments
Late payments can hurt your FICO Score and negatively impact your personal finances. How long do late payments stay on your credit report? Typically, it’s seven years, but it could be less.
To remove late payments sooner, request your creditor’s forgiveness, negotiate a pay-for-delete agreement or dispute illegitimate negative information.
If you know you’re going to be late on a payment, contact your creditor to determine your available options. Some lenders offer late payment forgiveness, loan modifications or other alternatives that’ll give you temporary relief. You can also sign up for automatic notifications or payments to ensure you’re always on time.