Updated 04/09/18

You got a credit card statement in the mail, and… Boom! You were thrown a late fee and your account is past due. You ask yourself. How in the world did this happen? Then you start thinking …Oh my gosh! Now I could say good bye to my great credit that I worked so hard on building! Is my secure life as I knew it ‘till now over?!? My house… car …..kids’ education…….?

I know there are blogs out there which will try to get you more scared and tell you how much trouble you are in. But I am going to tell you to calm down. It’s no big deal. Everything can be dealt with!

Most Banks Don’t Report Less Than 30 Days Late

The number one thing you should know is that most banks will not report your payment as late until its 30 days past due. Meaning, that if your payment was due January 1 and you paid it January 25, it will still be reported as an on time payment. You can also ask the bank to wave the late fee as a one-time courtesy.

Running the Banks Are Human People

Number two. Behind the bank and behind all the rules, there are people. Each of those people has a heart and a brain, and they know that people can make mistakes. So even if it is reported as late, you should try to get a hold of the department that deals with these issues and explain the situation (i.e. you had a baby, you were sick, a family member was sick, you were on vacation, etc.) Let them know that you’re looking to buy a new home now, and you need to qualify for a mortgage or you looking to lease a car etc. Banks will be forgiving if you ask nicely and you gave a good reason. Promise that it will never happen again.

Please note: You will need to get a hold of the right department. Don’t waste your time with a phone representative. Find a supervisor or manger that is willing to help you. A good idea would be to write down their name and direct contact number and follow up with him/her. At times you will need to write a letter or reach out to corporate. But whatever it is, don’t give up until you find someone in the bank that is willing to understand you and help you. (I once had a client that reached out to the bank’s CEO and he happily helped him).

A Onetime 30 Day Late Payment Is Not The Worst Thing.

There is a well-known joke. What is worse than finding a mouse in your house?… Finding two! But in all seriousness, credit models understand that every person may have valid reasons why he was late on a payment. As long as you don’t repeat it again, in the long run, it won’t affect your credit by too much. The first six months will be affected the most, and then slowly it will go back up again. By a year in a half to two years everything will be back to normal. (Keep all your credit cards open. Now would not be the time to close cards. You would need as many positive accounts as possible.)

Step by Step Guide 

Based on what we discussed above, if you find yourself a few days late on a payment, here is what you should do.

  • Make the payment as soon as possible.
  • Wait a month or two to see if it was reported on your credit report as late.
  • If it was reported as late, try to see if the bank will be willing to forgive you.
  • Be extra careful that from now on you should never be late on a payment again, because a second late payment will be much worse than the first.

You may also want to read: Get A Late Payment Mark Removed Through Re-Aging

I hope I was able to calm your nerves. Just follow these steps and wish for the best!