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?
Should you now say goodbye to the great credit you worked so hard to build? Is your secure life as you knew it ‘till now over?!? I know there are blogs out there that 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!
Banks don't report less than 30 days late
The number one thing you should know is that banks will not report your payment as late until it’s a full 30 days past due. Meaning, if your payment was due January 1 and you paid it January 25, it will still be reported as an on-time payment.
Why? Because credit bureaus do not allow banks to report a late payment before it’s a full 30 days past due. Banks and creditors can only report past due payments in 30 day increments. So it will be either 30 days past due, 60 days past due, 90, 120 etc.
The credit bureaus do not give the banks an option of reporting a payment as 3 days past due. And if they do report a 3 day past due payment as 30 days past due, it will be a violation to the Fair Credit Report Act as it will be inaccurately reported on the credit report.
Pro tip: You can also ask the bank to waive the late fee as a one-time courtesy. Usually they will waive it just by asking.
A one-time 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 score models understand that every person may have valid reasons why they were late on a payment. As long as you don’t repeat it again, in the long run, it won’t affect your credit too much. The first few months will be affected the most, and then slowly, it will go back up again. By as fast as six months, 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.)
If your payment is 60 days past due then that is a bit worse but still not that bad. 90 days past due is already very serious and will affect your credit much more and for much longer.
You can read more about how long late payments affect your credit score here.
Try to ask the bank for a one time courtesy
It used to be very common for banks to extend a one time courtesy and remove late payments from your credit report if you asked.
Recently, these courtesies are almost non-existent. But it doesn’t hurt to try. Plus, if you can explain to the bank that you recently got married or had a baby etc., which caused you to miss the payment (provide proof such as a wedding invitation, etc) then that can greatly up your chances of success with obtaining a courtesy. It’s also recommended to try to reach out to the bank’s corporate department as they have the real power to help you. You can try to search emails for the bank’s corporate department on hunter.io.
Step by step guide on how to deal with a single 30 day late payment
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 from now on to never be late on a payment again, because a second late payment will be much worse than the first.
I hope I was able to calm your nerves. Just follow these steps and wish for the best!