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What Happens If You Miss a Credit Card Payment?

Don’t panic — you might pay a late fee or lose your perks, but there’s plenty you can do to address a missed credit card payment.

July 21, 2022

Life happens, and sometimes you might miss a credit card payment. For example, you might be on vacation, you’re sick or you’re busy juggling your kids’ schedules — leading you to forget to take care of your bill. 

While missing one credit card payment isn’t the end of the world, it can have financial consequences. So, what happens if you miss a credit card payment? Let’s look at the four potential consequences as well as how you can try to fix the situation.

Here’s what happens if you miss a credit card payment

How bad is it if you miss a credit card payment? It depends on how late the payment is and your credit card’s terms. If you forgot to pay the minimum amount on your credit card, these four things might happen to you.

Late payment fees

Credit card companies can charge you a late fee if you don’t make the minimum payment by the due date. On average, late fees range from $26 for a first-time fee to $34 for subsequent late fees if you continue to not pay the minimum. 

Penalty interest charges

Read the fine print in your credit card agreement. If your card issuer mentions penalty interest rates, it means they reserve the right to charge a higher interest rate because of missed payments. 

The average penalty APR is 28.58%. However, your credit card company might only apply that penalty APR to either your current balance or your future transactions. You should read the fine print in your contract to clarify how your lender handles penalty APRs. 

Lost perks

Did you sign up for this credit card for perks like a balance transfer, travel miles or bonus offers? If you fail to make the minimum payment, you could lose out on them. 

For example, if you did a balance transfer to a card because it offered a 0% APR, you could potentially lose that 0% APR deal because of a late credit card payment. 

Lower credit score

A lower credit score is another possible consequence of missed credit card payments. Lenders may use your credit score to determine your creditworthiness.

The credit scoring agency FICO weighs several factors to determine your credit score: 

  • Payment history is 35% of your score.

  • Amounts owed accounts for 30% of your score.

  • Length of credit history makes up 15% of your score.

  • New credit determines 10% of your score.

  • Credit mix is 10% of your score.

As you can see, payment history has the biggest impact on your credit score. So, if you have missed payments on your credit history, it can decrease your score. 

If you miss your payment by a day, it’s usually not a big deal. That’s because credit card companies typically won’t report late payments to the credit bureaus if they’re less than 30 days late. However, the credit card company will report missed payments every 30 days, so the longer you go without paying, the more your score can be impacted.

If you’re 180 days past due on your bill, the credit card company might charge off your debt. This means the credit card company is writing off your debt for tax purposes. However, you still need to pay off your debt. Plus, a charge-off will stay on your credit report for seven years, which may make it difficult to secure credit. 

At this point, credit card companies will often pass your debt to a third-party collections agency. You’ll need to work with these debt collectors to make a payment plan.

What should I do if I miss a credit card payment?

If you’ve missed a payment, try to take action as soon as you realize what happened.  This can help you avoid further consequences or getting more behind on your payment. These five tips can help you deal with a missed credit card payment. 

Pay the minimum

You don’t have to pay off your entire credit card balance, but you do need to pay the minimum. If it’s less than 30 days after your due date, you can pay the minimum to avoid the late payment from affecting your credit score. 

The good news is, if you pay within a day or two after your payment due date, you likely won’t see a long-term financial impact. You might be on the hook for late fees or penalty interest rates, but you probably won’t see any damage to your credit score.

However, even if you’re past the 30-day mark, it’s still a good idea to make your minimum payment. This can minimize the damage to your score by preventing further dings to your credit.

Call your credit card issuer

If you accidentally miss a payment and you have a long history of making your payments on time, give your credit card issuer a call. If you explain what happened, they might be able to waive late fees or choose not to report the missed payment to the credit bureaus.

You’d be surprised at how reasonable credit card companies can be if you’re upfront with them. As long as you have a solid history of paying on time, they’re much more likely to forgive this oversight. It also helps to be friendly, courteous and kind when you’re on the phone. Customer service folks are more likely to help out when you’re nice. 

Plus, chatting with the company can help you avoid future missed payments, too. They can help you come up with a payment plan or change your due date so it’s more manageable. 

Set up reminders

Several missed payments in a row can hurt your credit score. That’s why it’s important to remember payments in the future. 

One way to stay on top of your payments and due dates is to set up reminders in the form of: 

  • Adding a calendar reminder to your phone.

  • Requesting notifications, like emails or texts, from your card issuer before your due date.

  • Lumping all of your bill payments into the same day or week.

If possible, try to set up auto-pay for your credit card minimums. If you make at least the minimum amount due each month through an automatic payment, you don’t have to worry about missed due dates or late fees.

Try a credit card payoff app

If you’re struggling to keep up with the minimum payments on all of your credit cards, try a credit card payoff app like Tally†. Tally helps you keep track of your due dates and can even make payments for you. This may help you avoid late payments and all of the stress that comes with them.


Pursue credit counseling

Life can make it tough to stay on top of your minimum payments. If you need a little help getting things in order, there are credit card counseling programs available. Look for a qualified credit counselor from organizations like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or the Financial Counseling Association of America.

Take action after a missed credit card payment

What happens if you miss a credit card payment? You could be on the hook for late fees, receive penalty interest rates or lose your card perks. You could also see a dip in your credit score if the payment is over 30 days late. 

But don’t beat yourself up over this. Sure, there are consequences to missing a credit card payment, but by taking action, you can reduce the long-term damage. Start by paying your minimums, calling the credit card company, setting up reminders, trying a credit card payoff app or seeking a credit counselor. 

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