The simple answer is, yes. Sometimes, just being a few days late may damage your payment record, and being 30 days late will typically be reported to all three credit bureaus, affecting your credit score. Some lenders may not report late payments until they’re 60 days late, according to The Balance.

Here’s how different types of late payments may affect your credit score:

1. Types of Late Payments

2. How to Avoid Late Payments

3. What To Do If You Are Behind on Payments

1. Types of Late Payments

For creditors, a single late payment may signify a broken trust. A missed payment can identify you as more of a credit risk than before. That’s why payment history is the most heavily weighted factor in calculating credit scores, accounting for about a third of the formula. The credit bureaus put late payments into various categories, including “how severe it is,” “how recent it is” and “how frequently you’ve paid late.” The more severe the category, the more damaging it is to your score. A late payment from many years ago won’t hurt as much as the one reported today.

One late payment may bring down your score considerably and it could remain on your record for up to seven years.

2. How to Avoid Late Payments

You likely have a busy life, and sometimes, it can be easy to forget a payment. One solution is to set up an automatic payment from your checking account to be sure you make your credit card payments on time. Another solution is to call your credit card company before you miss a payment deadline, and let them know your situation. If you’re able to explain that missing this payment is a one-time occurrence and provide a date when you will make the payment, they may be able to extend the due date, waive the late fee and report your payment status as current.

3. What To Do If You Are Behind on Payments

The best solution is to get your account current as soon as possible, which means paying the past-due amount. If you can’t pay the full amount all at once, talk to your creditor and establish a payment plan over a few months. This can be helpful in getting back on track, even if your account won’t be reported as current until the full past-due amount is paid.

Sometimes, statements get lost in the mail or email addresses change and creditors might be forgiving of these sorts of common misfires.

It’s important to look over your credit report at least once a year to see what is being reported.

Published May 10, 2016.

Updated March 5, 2020.

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