Credit Score Improving Your Score

How Late Payments Are Killing Your Credit

Elizabeth Aldrich

Your credit score exists to give financial institutions a general idea of your credit risk. You may have heard of the FICO 5 — these are the 5 factors that go into creating your credit score.

Among all of these factors, payment history is the most important. It makes up 35% of your credit score. While not as damaging as defaulting on your mortgage, for example, making repeated late payments will have a significant impact on this portion of your score.

If your payment is more than 30 days overdue, your lender will likely notify all three of the major credit card bureaus. This is likely to ding your score, and while paying regularly on time will slowly bring it back up, the late payment can stay on your credit report for up to 7 years. Late payments will affect your credit differently depending on their severity and the type of payment you are making. Neglecting to pay your student loans, for example, can mar your credit for life.

Making a habit of paying your bills late is one of the worst things you can do to your credit score. But what if you accidentally miss one payment?

What Happens to Your Credit Score if You Make One Late Payment

Maybe.

If you’ve never made a late payment before and it’s been less than 30 days, your credit score is likely to remain unaffected. Your credit card company might even waive the late fee if you call them up. However, multiple late payments, even if always within 30 days, will cause your credit card to rack up late fees and could increase your interest rate.

If you only have one late payment but it’s been more than 30 days, it will add up quickly if you don’t pay it off immediately. After 60 days, or three missed payments, your credit score will start taking a significant hit and can drop up to 100 points or more. After 90 days, you will likely be sent to collections and see long-term damage to your credit. Finally, after 180 days of non-payment, your account is considered “charged-off”. This will be a huge blow to your credit score — almost as bad as bankruptcy.

About the author

Elizabeth Aldrich

Elizabeth Aldrich

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and “digital nomad” specializing in small business, entrepreneurship, career advice, real estate, travel, arts, and culture. She’s written for outlets as varied as Rawckus Music and Arts Magazine, Itcher Entertainment, Sweden Tips, Houzz, Hometalk, JobHero, Tico Times, and Eugene Weekly. Thanks to a three-year stint in a travel job, a knack for mining great deals, and credit card churning, she has not paid for a single flight since 2012, despite her constant travels. You can find her on Twitter @LizzieAldrich or her website, www.elizabethaldrich.com.

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