How Do Late Payments Affect My Credit Score?

While many factors contribute to a credit score, late payments negatively influence your credit more than any other single factor. 1

Late Means Late

A late payment is simply a payment that you don’t pay before the due date. And whether your payment is a little late or a lot late, it could negatively affect your credit score. 2 Some lenders may report late payments to the credit bureaus immediately, while others may hold off until 30 days—or even 60 days—have passed. In the latter case, if the next due date arrives and the payment hasn’t been made, it becomes a “missed” payment instead of a “late” payment. Some lenders may excuse your first late payment if you have a record of on-time payments.

Recent Late Payments Carry More Weight Than Old Ones

When it comes to late payments and your credit score, your recent payment history carries the most weight, so late payments that occurred within the past year impact your score more than late payments from several years ago. 3 And usually, the longer you take to pay the bill, the more severe the impact. Borrowers with high credit scores who make a late payment may see larger drops in their score than borrowers with lower credit scores.3 Late payments can remain on your credit report for up to seven years.

Addressing Late Payments

Make the payments required to bring your account up-to-date. Then consistently make all payments in full and on time to show a current record of on-time payments. Even if you’re feeling financial strapped, budgeting out a consistent payment plan can be possible. Over time, the late payment should have less impact on your score.

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