If you’re struggling to make ends meet, you may wonder: “What happens if I don’t pay a credit card?”

While ignoring your credit card bills may not result in the same consequences as losing electricity when you don’t pay a utility bill, not paying a credit card can seriously impact your life. Know that before you actually miss a payment, however, you may wish to reach out to your credit issuer to discuss your payment issues, and they might work with you to set up a repayment schedule or offer other hardship resources.

Here’s what you can expect if you don’t pay your credit card, depending on how late your payment becomes.

You just missed your payment due date.

Perhaps you lost a credit card statement, or simply forgot to send your payment. You will usually be charged a late payment fee. If you pay what you owe or make payment arrangements with your issuer, the missed payment may not be reported to the credit bureaus yet.1

Your payment is more than one month overdue.

You’ll probably be contacted by your credit card issuer about your late payment and you may continue to be charged late fees. However, if you resolve the late payment and pay your bills on time in the future, your positive payment history could eventually make that late payment less prominent on your credit report.2

Your payment is more than two months overdue.

The credit issuer may increase the account’s interest rate or impose other penalties and late fees may continue. Credit card issuers will likely report an account as delinquent to credit card bureaus.3 If the credit card issuer hasn’t transferred the account over to a collection agency, it may be your last chance to pay the credit card before your account is turned over to collectors.

Your account is more than three months overdue.

If the credit issuer transfers the debt to a collection agency (though this is not always the case), debt collectors may begin contacting you for payment. A debt collector may choose to take legal action to collect payment.4 The fact that the account is in collections could stay on your credit report for about seven years.5


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