How long do late payments stay on your credit report?

Late payments on a credit card can happen for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s simple forgetfulness. Another time it might be a cash flow issue. 

Whatever the reason, the effects of a late credit card payment can linger. In addition to potential fees and penalties, a late payment could stay on your credit report for up to seven years. 

Keep reading to explore when payments are considered late and when they’re actually reported. Plus, learn steps you can take to avoid missing payments.

Key takeaways

  • It depends on the credit card issuer, but a payment can be considered late when it’s 30 days or more past due, and that can be reported anytime after that.
  • Late payments can stay on your credit report for up to seven years.
  • Late fees, higher interest rates and closed accounts could be some of the results of making a late credit card payment.
  • You can prevent late payments by creating payment reminders and setting up automatic payments.

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When is a credit card payment considered late?

What’s meant by a “late” credit card payment can vary from one issuer to another. By law, as long as payment is received by 5 p.m. on the due date, it can’t be considered late. Some issuers might even accept payments after 5 p.m. on the due date without considering them past due. But in general, lenders consider the payment late if you don’t submit your payment by the payment due time and date.

When is a late payment reported to credit bureaus?

If a payment is made before it’s 30 days past due, it normally won’t appear on credit reports from the three major credit bureaus: Experian®, Equifax® and TransUnion®. Generally, a late payment can’t be reported to a credit reporting agency until after it’s 30 days past due. But if you can, it’s still best to at least pay your minimum amount due by the due time and date to avoid fees and finance charges.

What happens if a payment is between one day and 29 days late?

Although a payment that’s between one day and 29 days late generally won’t be reported to the credit bureaus, you still might face penalties:

  • The card issuer could charge you a late fee, even if it’s your first late payment. Expect this fee to be about $27-$35.
  • The card issuer could increase the late fee if you wind up with another late payment within the next six billing cycles.
  • The card issuer could raise the annual percentage rate (APR) for your account. This APR can be applied to future transactions if your account stays overdue.
  • The card issuer could cancel your promotional APR.

What happens if a payment is more than 30 days late?

A billing cycle usually lasts 30 days. When a payment is 30 days overdue, card issuers may report it to the credit bureaus as being delinquent. The delinquent payment would then show up on your credit reports. And that can hurt your credit score.

Typically, late payments are also reported to credit bureaus when they’re 60 days, 90 days, 120 days and 150 days overdue. The longer a payment is delinquent, the bigger the impact might be. Every situation is different, but here’s a rough idea of how things might proceed:

  • A payment that’s at least 60 days late can trigger more late payment fees and penalties. And the card issuer might ramp up its efforts to collect the money you owe.
  • At 90 days late, you’re likely to hear more often and urgently from the card issuer. It might sell your debt to a collection agency or charge off the debt. A charge-off happens when the issuer closes your account and writes it off as a financial loss. 
  • At 120 to 180 days late, a card issuer is more likely to charge off your account. That means the account is closed and written off as a loss by the issuer. When this happens, you can no longer make arrangements with the original creditor to pay off the debt. In many cases, your past-due debt will be sent to a debt collection agency.

When do late payments fall off a credit report?

A late payment can stay on your credit report for up to seven years. The seven-year period starts on the date of the first delinquent payment. Although a late payment can affect your credit score during the entire seven-year span, the effect tends to decrease over time.

How to remove wrong late payments on your credit report

If you think a late payment was reported in error, you can file a dispute with the credit bureau that issued the report with the inaccurate information. If your reports from all three major credit bureaus show the same inaccurate late payment, you have to file a separate dispute with each bureau. If the dispute is investigated and ruled in your favor, the late payment will be erased from your credit report.

If you think the error originated with your credit card issuer, you can try working directly with them. If a card issuer investigates and recognizes an error, it will notify the credit bureaus to fix the issue.

Why should you avoid making late payments?

Making late payments to a credit card issuer can have short- and long-term negative effects:

  • You could be charged late fees. A credit card issuer can charge a late fee for missing just one credit card payment. The fee might go up if you miss subsequent payments.
  • You could face interest charges. A creditor might charge interest on your unpaid balance until it receives your payment in full. 
  • Your interest rate could go up. If you’re at least 60 days late on your payment, your card issuer might increase the interest on your balances. And if your interest rate increases, you’ll be charged more interest on your unpaid balance, which will increase your balance even more. But not all issuers use a penalty APR with late payments. So it’s best to check with your credit card company.
  • Your credit scores might drop. It’s impossible to say exactly how a late payment will affect your credit. But payment history is an important scoring factor for two of the most popular scoring companies: FICO® and VantageScore®. FICO says it uses three criteria to judge late payments: severity, frequency and recency. That means a few things when it comes to its credit scores. A late payment can cause your credit score to fall more if your current credit score is excellent rather than at a lower point on the credit-scoring scale. Missing one payment after another can do more harm than missing only one payment. And late payments on several accounts can trigger more damage than late payments on just one account.
  • Your account could be charged off. When a credit card account goes 180 days past due, the credit card issuer must close and charge off the account. This means the account is written off as a loss to the company. But the debt is still owed. It isn’t possible to say exactly how a charge-off will affect your credit report or how your credit will be viewed by other creditors. But a charge-off will generally stay on your credit report for up to seven years.

How to avoid late credit card payments

Even the most careful credit card holder can miss a payment. But here are some steps you can take to avoid late credit card payments going forward:

  1. Check the due time and date. It’s a good idea to stay on top of the monthly due date for each credit card account. If the current due date is inconvenient, request a new payment due date.
  2. Look into payment alerts. See whether your card issuer offers alerts reminding you when a payment is due. If those aren’t available, consider setting your own reminders on your calendar, mobile phone or computer.
  3. Consider automatic payments. Many issuers give customers the option to set up recurring payments. If you’re a Capital One cardholder, you can set up AutoPay to make monthly credit card payments automatically. AutoPay gives you options to decide how much you pay, including the minimum payment, the last statement balance or a custom amount.
  4. Reach out to your credit card issuer. If you’re going to be unable to make a payment on time, it might help to contact the card issuer. Card issuers work with people to make payment arrangements every day. They might have resources available to you.

Late payments on your credit report in a nutshell

Late payments can stay on your credit report for up to seven years. When a late payment appears on your credit report, it can result in a lower credit score, making it harder to obtain credit or at least get credit with an attractive interest rate. A late credit card payment can also lead to fees and penalties from the card issuer.

You can keep an eye on your credit by using a free tool like CreditWise from Capital One.

If you find yourself unable to make payments on bills, credit card debts or other loans, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommends working with your lenders directly. The CFPB says the earlier you reach out, the better. And it has a helpful page describing what options may be available and what to say to your lender. 

Capital One customers who may be experiencing financial difficulties should reach out directly to discuss available resources.

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