If you don’t pay your credit card bills, you could experience a few negative outcomes — two of which include your missed payment being reported to the major national credit bureaus, and your account being placed with a collection agency. In most cases, a missed payment and a delinquency is likely to stay on your credit report for about seven years.1

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But let’s start at the beginning so you understand what happens after you miss a payment.

What happens after missing a payment?

Different creditors have different credit reporting time lines and procedures. However, once you are more than 60 days late on your credit card payment, many creditors will report your delinquency to one or all of the major national credit bureaus. Late payments can stay on your credit report for up to seven years.1 Eventually, after enough missed payments, your account may be placed with a collection agency or, eventually, charged off. You may start to receive calls or notices from the collection agency asking you to pay.

Should I repay the debt after missed payments?

There is certainly value in paying back the debt. If you want to rebuild your credit history and apply for credit or loans in the future, creditors can see that you’ve made efforts to repay even delinquent debt, which can help make you appear more responsible.

As always, it’s advised that you make payments per your obligations because it shows creditors that you repay debts as agreed. If you find yourself having trouble making payments, you could also contact your creditor before it becomes too serious, because they may be able to work with you on a payment strategy.

Can I ask to have the collection removed from my report?

 If there’s been a mistake, a miscommunication or a dispute, creditors have an obligation to ensure their reporting is accurate. There are specific steps to take to dispute an error on your credit report.2

How does a collection account on my credit report affect my credit score?

Generally, missing payments that are reported to a credit reporting agency will have a negative impact on your credit history and score. In fact, a significant level of delinquency is one of the more negative marks found on a credit report, and your credit score can drop. As a result, you may not be approved for other credit or loans you apply for.3 However, you could recover over time by making payments and practicing good repayment behaviors with your accounts.4

How do I avoid collections?

The best advice is practicing responsible borrowing habits, especially paying bills on time each month. To help stay on top of it, you can set up monthly payment reminders (such as texts and/or emails) or automatic payments to help you make regular on-time payments. If you’re having trouble making payments, many creditors can provide assistance.

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As a preventative measure, you can also check your credit score often and look at your credit reports from each of the three major reporting bureaus. You are entitled to a free copy from each of the bureaus once a year, and regular check-ups could alert you to potential mistakes. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to request a credit report for free.

A collection account can be bad for your credit history, but with positive behaviors, you can start to recover over time. It’s never too late to start making payments towards delinquent debt to begin to clean up your credit history.


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.