How Long Do Late Payments Stay on a Credit Report?

Roll of bills with rubber band framing Lincoln's eyes

Chris Bridges, Founder and CEO, VITAL Card Inc.

Late payments, whether they’re on your student loans, credit cards, or other debt, can have a negative impact on your credit score. This can make it difficult to qualify for a loan or mortgage, and may even increase insurance premiums. 

But what’s considered a late payment, anyway? And how long do late payments stay on your credit report

Discover the answers to these common personal finance questions and more with the help of VITAL Card.

What Is a Credit Report?

A credit report serves as a summary of your credit history. It documents and includes information about your credit accounts such as the date each account was opened, your payment history, and your credit limits. 

On your credit report, you will find the below information: 

  • Your personal information (i.e. your name, address, and Social Security number).
  • Your credit history, including a list of your past and current lenders. 
  • Your payment history, including on-time and late payments. 
  • Other financial history information, like whether or not you have any collections accounts or previously filed for bankruptcy.

The three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) maintain and update American consumers’ credit reports. These credit reports help determine each individual’s credit score, a number that represents creditworthiness. 

A good credit score, which can vary depending on the credit scoring model, can make you more likely to get approved for a personal loan or another line of credit

In addition, creditors will generally consider factors such as your credit utilization and payment history to decide if you are a good candidate for a loan. 

Lenders and credit card companies may also use your credit report to determine your loan or card’s interest rate as well. This basically means that having a good credit score isn’t just important for getting a loan — it can also save you money.

What Counts as a Late Payment?

A late payment is any payment that’s not received by the creditor on the due date. Lending institutions typically don’t report late payments to credit reporting agencies until the reporting date, which is usually about 30 days. Even if they don’t report your payment, lenders may still charge late fees. 

Late payments can happen for a variety of reasons, but usually, they happen because of simple things like a moment of forgetfulness or a hectic life event. Sometimes, a borrower may not have enough money in his account to cover the full amount of the bill, which can also result in a late payment.

How Does a Missed Payment Affect Your Credit Score?

Several factors can influence how much a missed payment affects your credit score. These may include details from your credit history and the length of time between your late payment’s due date and date of receipt. In general, a single late payment can result in a drop of up to 180 points on your FICO score. 

If you fail to pay an overdue bill for several months, your lender may transfer your debt to a collection account. The negative information associated with your bill going to a collection agency may remain on your credit report for seven years at most.

Borrowers with excellent credit scores and those with a short credit history are more likely to experience a steep decrease in their scores due to late payments. Fortunately, credit scores can recover over time, as long as you make on-time payments and pay off outstanding balances every billing cycle.

How Long Do Late Payments Stay on a Credit Report?

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, late payments that are reported to the major credit bureaus can stay on your credit report for up to seven years. 

For example, if you have a late payment reported in May 2022, this negative mark can remain on your credit report until May 2029.

If you’re worried about whether or not a late payment will affect your credit report, you can check by ordering a copy of your credit report from one — or all — of the three main credit agencies. 

You can get a free credit report from each of the main credit reporting agencies once a year through AnnualCreditReport.com. After acquiring your report, look through it carefully to see if any late payments are listed.

If you do find a late payment that you do not recognize, determine when the negative mark was posted, then reach out to the credit bureau directly and ask them to investigate. In a case where the late payment occurred more than seven years ago, it should no longer appear on your credit report. 

Can You Remove Missed Payments From Your Credit Report?

There are a few ways to remove late payments from your credit report. 

One way is to dispute the late payments with the major credit bureaus, especially if they were due to an error. This involves calling or sending a letter to the credit reporting agency that explains why the late payment is incorrect and asking for it to be removed. 

Another approach involves negotiating with your creditor. You can do this yourself or through a credit repair company. If you negotiate with your lending institution, you can request that they remove the late payment from your credit report if you make the full payment.

Additionally, those who are going through financial hardships, such as a medical emergency, natural disaster, or loss of employment, can send their collection agency or lender a goodwill letter to explain their circumstances. While your creditors aren’t guaranteed to respond, they may remove your late payment as a gesture of goodwill.

How To Rebuild Your Credit After a Late Payment

A late payment can cause a noticeable decrease in your credit report and credit score. If you have a late payment, it is crucial to take steps to rebuild your credit.

Here are a few places to start:

  • Review your credit report for any errors. If a late payment on your credit report is inaccurate, consider filing a dispute with the credit bureaus.
  • Make on-time payments. This includes credit card payments and any other payments you may have, such as student loan, auto loan, or mortgage payments.
  • Avoid accruing new debt. If possible, avoid taking out new lines of credit or accumulating credit card debt while you are working on rebuilding your credit.
  • Use a credit monitoring service. This lets you keep track of your credit report and score so that you can track your progress over time.
  • Talk to a professional. If you are having trouble repairing your credit on your own, reach out to one of many professional financial companies that specialize in credit repair.

If you have a large amount of outstanding debt, you may also want to review your budget and see where you can cut back on expenses. You can use any extra cash to catch up on any late payments or contribute more than the minimum payment amount on any outstanding debt. 

In addition, consider contacting your creditors to explain any extenuating circumstances. Certain companies may be willing to work with you to set up a payment plan. This can help improve your credit score over time and show creditors that you are serious about rebuilding your credit.

What Are Practical Ways To Avoid Late Payments?

The most efficient method to avoid late payments is to set up autopay (short for automatic payments). This way, you won’t forget to make a payment and can have a record of the payment being made on time.

Industry-leading financial products like VITAL Card offer the ability to schedule payments for a variety of lenders, including certain insurance companies and loan providers that accept Mastercard. Other perks of becoming a VITAL cardholder include cashback rewards and effortless credit health monitoring.

In a case where autopay is not an option for you, keep track of when each of your bills is due and set payment reminders for yourself accordingly. Whether it’s putting a sticky note on your fridge or setting up a calendar alert on your phone, find a system that works for you.

If you think you might encounter difficulties making a payment on time, contact your creditor as soon as possible to discuss your financial hardships. The credit card company or lender may be able to work with you to establish a payment plan or offer other assistance.

Key Takeaways on Late Payments and Your Credit Report

Ultimately, payments that are 30 days late or more can impact your credit score by up to 180 points, depending on the credit scoring model. This is because payment history comprises one of the most important factors for many types of credit scores, including FICO scores.

Keep in mind late payments can remain on a credit report for a maximum of seven years. While it’s not ideal to have a missed payment on your credit report, the negative impact on your credit score can lessen with time. It’s also possible to dispute inaccurate late payments on your credit report or even send a goodwill letter to a lender to request the removal of a derogatory mark.

If you’re looking to build healthy financial habits, consider VITAL card. Not only does VITAL Card reward good financial habits with credit health rewards, but it also comes with an online community of others who can encourage you along the way. 

Learn more here to see if VITAL may be right for you.

Sources:

What is a credit report? | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 

Does one late payment hurt my credit score? | MarketWatch 

Collection Accounts and Your Credit Scores | Equifax® 

How Long Does Negative Information Stay on a Credit Report? | Nolo 

How do I get a copy of my credit reports? | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 

How to Write a Goodwill Letter to Remove a Late Payment | NerdWallet 

Best Credit Repair Companies of January 2023 | Investopedia 

Credit Card Autopay Explained | Bankrate 

VITAL Card blog posts are intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial or any other type of advice.

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