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What Happens If You Don’t Pay a Credit Card?

Last Updated: September 11, 2023
3 min read

Key points about: not paying your credit card bill

  1. A late credit card payment can result in a late fee and affect your credit score.

  2. If you’re experiencing financial hardship, you can contact your credit card issuer to discuss payment options.

  3. If you miss multiple months in a row, your account may be reported as delinquent to credit bureaus, and/or transferred to a collection agency.

Not paying a credit card bill can have a serious impact on your credit score, which might make it difficult to secure future lines of credit. If you think you're going to miss your monthly credit card payment, reach out to your credit card issuer to see if they'll set up a repayment plan.
Consider these repercussions and scenarios for what happens if you don’t pay your credit card, which can vary depending on how late your payment is and your credit card company’s terms and conditions.

You missed one credit card payment

Perhaps you lost a credit card statement or simply forgot to send your payment. Depending on your credit card issuer’s terms and conditions, you may be charged a late fee if you don’t pay your credit card bill on time or at least pay the minimum payment due, according to the Federal Trade Commission. If you miss a payment, pay as soon as possible.

If you pay what you owe or make payment arrangements with your issuer before a full billing cycle passes, the missed payment may not show up on your credit report or be reported to the credit bureaus.

You haven’t paid your credit card for 60 days

If you haven’t paid your credit card bill for two months, you'll likely be contacted by your credit card issuer about your overdue account. You'll also likely be charged late fees again, and depending on the issuer, the late fee may go up, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). After more than 30 days past due, the credit card issuer may also report your account to credit reporting agencies, which may affect your credit score.

If you haven’t paid your credit card for more than 60 days, you may also be charged an interest rate penalty, meaning your APR could go up, according to the CFPB. This APR increase varies by issuer. Try to make the outstanding payments as quickly as you can, but if you can’t cover the outstanding amount, contact your credit card issuer.

What happens if you don’t pay your credit card for 6 months?

If you fail to pay your credit card for more than 180 days, or six months, more serious consequences could occur on top of the late fees accumulating on your account and the impact to your credit score.

At any point throughout the six months, depending on the credit card issuer’s terms, they may report an account as delinquent to credit bureaus. Also, some issuers may send your account to a collection agency to collect on the creditor’s behalf, while others may first try to collect from you directly.

Did you know?

If your credit has been damaged by missed credit card payments, you may be able to rebuild your credit history1 using a secured credit card from Discover.

Your account is overdue and sent to a collection agency

If the credit issuer transfers the debt to a collection agency (though this is not always what happens), the debt collector may contact you for payment. If they’re unable to reach you or resolve the debt, the next step may be to take legal action to collect payment. Finally, all delinquencies may stay on your credit report for up to seven years.

When you understand that missed credit card payments can lead to unintended consequences, it can help you be more proactive. Prioritizing your financial wellness, including credit card management, may help you avoid some common mistakes that could impact your future.

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  1. Build Credit History (Student Card): Discover reports your credit history to the three major credit bureaus so it can help build your credit if used responsibly. Late payments, delinquencies or other derogatory activity with your credit card accounts and loans may adversely impact your ability to build credit.
  • Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.