How Long Do Late Payments Stay on a Credit Report

How long do late payments stay on your credit report?

Late payments remain on your credit reports for seven years from the original date of the delinquency. Even if you repay overdue bills, the late payment won’t fall off your credit report until after seven years. And no matter how late your payment is, say 30 days versus 60 days, it will still take seven years to drop off.

Since payment history is the most important factor of your credit score, one late payment can make a big impact on your credit. However, the impact of a late payment lessens over time, especially if it's only a one-time mistake and you counteract it with on-time payments. You have a 30-day window to repay a late bill before it appears on your credit report. Anything more than 30 days will likely cause a dip in your credit score that can be as much as 180 points.

Here are more details on what to expect based on how late your payment is:

  • Payments less than 30 days late: If you miss your due date but make a payment before it’s 30 days past due, you’re in luck. Creditors don’t report a late payment to the credit bureaus until it’s 30 days past due. However, you may still incur a late fee.
  • Payments 30 or more days late: Once a late payment is 30 days overdue, it will appear on your credit report. You’re still responsible for making up the missed payment, so repay it as soon as possible.
  • Payments more than 60 days late: If you don’t repay the late payment and miss your next due date, a 60-day late notice will appear on your credit report. This can hurt your credit score even more. And if you miss several payments, more notices will show on your credit report, your debt may be sent to a collection agency and your creditor will likely close your account.

Late payments appear on your credit report under the account that you haven't paid. So if you're behind on a credit card, there will be a note in that section of your report saying you're 30, 60, or 90 days late (and so on).

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Do goodwill letters work?

Unfortunately, there are not any specific studies that show how often goodwill letters work — only anecdotal evidence. Further, many banks state specifically that they will not act in your favor if you send a goodwill letter. Bank of America is one of them. Per the bank’s website, they’re “required to report complete and accurate information, and that’s why we aren’t able to honor requests for goodwill adjustments.”

Instead, Bank of America notes that the “best way to address negative credit history is to rebuild your credit by moving forward and establishing a solid history of on-time payments.”

Be aware that goodwill letters are more likely to work for late payment removal — not for more serious credit offenses. If you’ve been wondering how to get an account in collections removed from your credit report, for example, a goodwill letter is unlikely to help.

Regardless of your bank’s stance on goodwill letters (or their apparent lack of a stance), you cannot lose anything by asking for this type of assistance. The goal of a goodwill letter is to try to remove negative information from your credit reports, knowing fully well you may or may not achieve the results you want.

How many days late before it is reported to the credit bureau?

Creditors may report a late payment to the credit bureaus once it hits 30 days past the due date. However, some creditors may not report it at all, especially if you’ve generally been a good client.

Others may wait until you close your account to report them. Once you are 90 days late or more, it affects your credit even more.

At this point, it can be turned into a charge-off if the creditor decides to sell the outstanding balance to a collection agency. However, even if you are already 90-plus days late on a payment, it’s still a good idea to pay to avoid additional harm in the form of a charge-off, collection, or repossession.

No matter how much you owe, late payments have the same effect. To the credit reporting agencies, a late payment of $50 is just as bad as one of $5,000. Knowing this, if you have to choose which bills to pay first, it may be wise to pay the less expensive ones first.

How Long Will a Late Payment Stay on a Credit Report?

Once a late payment is recorded on your credit report, you should know that it will be there for six years. Fortunately, as time passes, the impact on your score will decrease, because lenders care more about your recent credit history instead of the old one.

Therefore, it’s always important to keep up with future payments even though you were unable to make one payment on time. Your score will also improve over time, so it will be easier to get approved for credit.

Why Late Payments Matter

Your payment history is the most significant factor in your FICO credit score, with a 35% weighting. Even if your credit reports are in good shape, one late payment can damage your credit.

The impact of one late payment depends on several factors, including whether or not your lenders ever report late payments to credit bureaus.

How Late?

Payments less than 30 days late are unlikely to appear in your credit report. After that, payments get categorized (30 days, 60 days, 90 days, and so on, until the lender resorts to a charge-off). Paying 90 days late has a more severe impact than paying 31 days late.

How Often? 

One or two late payments will undoubtedly damage your credit, but the damage is limited if you avoid making a habit out of it. If you regularly pay late or you have late payments on multiple loans, the impact will be greater.

How Recent? 

A late payment affects your credit score within a month or so. Fresh information is meaningful for the scoring model. Still, it can be helpful to remove late payments that are several years old, because any negative items in your credit will weigh down your scores.

What Is Considered a Late Payment?

Technically speaking, a payment is late as soon as it’s past the due date, even if it’s one minute past midnight. If you’re looking for the nitty-gritty details, check your contract to see when your payment is specifically due. For example, your payment might be due by 5 p.m. instead of midnight.

However, once the deadline passes, many creditors have what’s called a grace period for you to make your payment before charging a late fee. Once the grace period is over—or if there is no grace period outlined in your contract—your provider will typically charge a late fee.

How to Dispute Inaccurate Information on Your Credit Report

You can also dispute any inaccurate information on your credit reports with the appropriate credit bureaus. Once a dispute is filed with the bureau, it will reach out to the creditor that supplied the information and ask them to verify it and respond to your claim.

If the creditor makes a change in response to your dispute, it must notify all other consumer reporting agencies to which it reported the information of the change.

Because each bureau handles disputes independently, you should check your report with each to make sure the changes have been made. If they haven’t, contact each of the credit reporting companies that are reporting the information separately to initiate a dispute with them.

Experian has an online portal you can use to submit a dispute, or you can file a dispute by phone, mail or fax if you prefer. Equifax and TransUnion have similar systems and options.

Filing a dispute is free, and you can attach or send copies of supporting documentation to verify your claim. However, some items that appear on your credit report typically aren’t disputable, such as correct legal names and addresses.

Once a credit bureau concludes its investigation, it may verify, update or delete the item in question. Disputes are generally resolved in 30 days—although they may be completed even sooner.

Sometimes, the creditor will disagree and continue to report the late payment, or the late payment may be removed temporarily but re-reported later once it has been verified. If you still disagree, and you have additional documentation supporting your claim, you can submit that new documentation to the credit bureau and request a new dispute.

How can a professional credit repair company help me?

Check out this story from one of our readers to see how professionals helped them.

Getting my credit back on track

Several years ago, I went through some tough times financially. I had always made on-time payments, but after I became unemployed, I simply wasn’t able to pay my bills on time.

After I told a friend of mine about my issues, he suggested I check out Lexington Law. So, I called them for a free consultation at 800-220-0084. I spoke to a credit professional who told me they believed they could help me.

I decided to sign up and give it a shot. After all, if it didn’t work, I could cancel at any time. Then, after only a few weeks, I started getting letters from consumer reporting agencies showing negative credit accounts were removed from my credit reports.

Since then, my FICO credit score has been improving steadily, and I have been getting much better interest rates on credit cards and loans. So it turned out to be a great decision for me (see below).

Client Testimonials:

I just wanted to thank you and tell you that your system is going to be able to put me in a home almost two years earlier than I originally expected to.My credit score has jumped over 60 points in the last 6 months to a very respectable level and now when I apply for a mortgage. I will be able to name my price. So file this e-mail in the happy customer section. I will refer anyone with less than perfect credit to your services it has made a world of difference for me! Thanks again!

— C.R., Lexington client

I can see that your method really works. I appreciate all that you have done for me so far. Already, I was able to walk into a car dealership, get approved in a matter of minutes, and qualify for a tier 1 rating. I haven’t been tier 1 in years!I also want you to know that I have recommended your services to many of my friends, family, acquaintances and business associates. No matter how careful or diligent you are, you can still end up with blemishes on your credit. I’m glad that you guys are out there to help remove them.

— H.M., Lexington client

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Lexington Law is now offering $50 off the initial set-up fee when you and your spouse or family members sign up together. The one-time $50.00 discount will be automatically applied to both you and your spouse’s first payment.

Active military members also qualify for a one-time $50 discount off the initial fee.

Correct vs. Incorrect Information

If you want to remove negative information from your credit report, you’ll first need to determine whether the information is correct. Accurately reported negative items, such as late payments, usually can’t be removed from your credit report by any method except the passage of time. 

Misinformation, on the other hand, can and should be removed. Incorrect entries, such as inaccurate late payments, can significantly harm your credit score and your financial prospects. Inaccurate personal information, such as your name or Social Security number, won’t affect your credit score, but errors in this information can cause other problems. It can often be extremely challenging and time-consuming to correct mistakes in your personal information. The credit bureaus and the federal government take identity theft seriously, so you’ll have to overcome some security hurdles to get this information corrected.

By comparison, incorrect financial items, such as falsely reported late payments, are fairly easy to remove. Each credit reporting bureau offers a free online dispute process that you can access through their websites, or you can send a dispute letter. You’ll need to report which item you believe is inaccurate and why. Attach any evidence or documentation that supports your position. 

The credit reporting bureau has 30 days to investigate your claim, so it may take 30-45 days to receive a response. If the bureau agrees with you, it will remove the inaccurate item, though the removal may not be reflected in your credit report or score until the next month or next reporting period. If you’re in the middle of a major financial transaction, such as applying for a mortgage, it’s possible to have your report and score updated sooner — often within days— by paying for a rapid rescore.

If the late payments on your credit report are correct, you can ask the creditor that reported the delinquency to remove it from your payment history. A goodwill letter or a pay-for-delete letter are two possible ways to accomplish this.

Goodwill Letter

Federal law requires creditors to report your account activity accurately and consistently. That said, the law also gives creditors the ability to decide whether to report each late payment. You may be able to use this flexibility to your advantage by sending the creditor a letter requesting a goodwill adjustment.

A goodwill adjustment is when a creditor voluntarily agrees to retract a reported late payment, based on your history of prior dealings with the creditor. A goodwill letter is the easiest, most straightforward way to get a late payment removed from your credit report. But this typically only works if your existing payment history has been relatively good. In other words, if this is your first late payment in a long time.

To write a goodwill letter, first outline your history of on-time payments and good relations with the creditor. Then explain why your payment was late and attach supporting documentation if applicable. The creditor may be more likely to comply with your request if you had a legitimate reason for paying late, such as a hospitalization, natural disaster, or other hardship. Assure the creditor that the late payment was a one-time incident, and request that the creditor remove the late payment from your credit report.

Even with an excellent reason for paying late and an otherwise spotless payment record, the creditor is not obligated to grant your request for a goodwill adjustment. In some cases, offering the creditor something in return, such as offering to pay off a loan that you’re behind on, may increase your odds of success.

Pay for Delete Letter

If you don’t have an established history of timely payments with a creditor, or if your account has already been transferred to a collection agency, a pay for delete letter may be an option. A pay for delete request is when you offer to pay a (usually past-due) debt in exchange for the creditor removing the negative information from your credit report. 

A pay for delete letter should identify the account and clearly express the terms of what you are offering in exchange for removing the item from your credit report. You can offer full or partial payment. You can also offer to enroll in automatic payments so you avoid late payments in the future.

Like goodwill letters, creditors are not obligated to respond to or comply with pay for delete requests. There are also several other reasons why a pay for delete letter should be used only as a last resort:

  • It’s legally sketchy. While the pay for delete process is not explicitly illegal, the practice falls within a legal gray area. By law, creditors and collection agencies must accurately report payment history, and only inaccurate records may be legally removed from a credit report. 

  • It’s incomplete. If the account has been sent to collection, the collection agency may agree to withdraw its report to the credit bureaus. Even so, a collection agency can’t remove the account as reported by the original creditor, which will likely remain on your report as “charged off” or “transferred to collection.”

  • It may not help. If the account is already in collection, removing it from your credit report likely won’t increase your credit score. That’s because the major credit scoring models, FICO and VantageScore, have ignored collection accounts for scoring purposes since 2016 and 2013, respectively. 

Credit Bureau Dispute Information

TransUnion LLC Consumer Dispute Center P.O. Box 2000 Chester, PA 19016

Tips for disputing your Transunion credit report

Online: 

Phone: 800-916-8800 – 8am-11pm EST

Experian Dispute P.O. Box 4500 Allen, TX 75013

Tips for disputing your Experian credit report

Online: 

Phone: (714) 830-7000

Equifax Information Services LLC P.O. Box 740256 Atlanta, GA 30374

Online: 

Phone: (800) 846-5279

Goodwill Letters Don’t Work Anymore

A few years ago, if you were late on an account that otherwise was always in good standing. You could ask customer service to remove the late payments as a one-time courtesy, and sometimes they would. That’s all been ended by the credit bureaus.

A creditor can no longer offer any forgiveness for late payments unless the late payment resulted from an error by the creditor. If you ask a creditor to remove a late payment as an act of goodwill, it will get you nowhere.

In fact, it will be noted you admitted you were late, and it will be much more difficult to have the late pay deleted in the future.

In conclusion…

A single 30-day late payment can be detrimental to your credit score and make it more difficult to get approved for a loan. One late payment can drop your credit score up to 75 points.

]These methods will work with credit card accounts, auto loans, mortgage payments, store cards, pretty much on any loan or credit account. The creditor

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