While the consequences may not be immediate, not paying a credit card bill can have a serious impact to your credit score and potentially making it difficult to secure future lines of credit. If you think you are going to miss your monthly credit card payment, try to be proactive by reaching out to your card issuer. It may be able to set you up with a repayment plan and offer other hardship assistance.

Consider these repercussions and scenarios for what happens if you don’t pay your credit card, depending on how late your payment is.

  1. You just missed your payment due date
  2. Your payment is more than one month overdue
  3. Your payment is more than two months overdue
  4. Your account is more than three months overdue

1. 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 before a full billing cycle passes, the missed payment may not be reported to the credit bureaus.

2. 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.

3. 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. 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.

4. Your account is more than three months overdue

If the credit issuer transfers the debt to a collection agency (though this is not always what happens), debt collectors may begin contacting you for payment. If they’re unable to reach you or resolve the debt, a collector may take legal action to collect payment. The fact that the account is in collections could stay on your credit report for about seven years.

Understanding that not making payments on your credit card bill can have unintended consequences may help you take a more proactive stance going forward. Prioritizing your financial wellness, including credit card management, may help you avoid some common mistakes that could impact your future.

Published April 18, 2017.

Updated October 27, 2020.

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.