When you don’t make a scheduled payment on a debt, you’ll likely get hit with a late fee. That can happen immediately or within a few days if the creditor offers a grace period.
But after a month goes by without a payment, the company can report you as 30 days late to the credit reporting agencies. Meanwhile, more bills likely will come, and you may get a call from the creditor seeking payment.
What you can do: When a creditor flags your account as delinquent, that mark can stay on your credit report for up to seven years. But being 30 days late is not as bad as 60 or 90 days late. Act now to limit the damage.
Don’t ignore any calls or bills you receive. If you know you can’t pay this month, contact the creditor to explain. It may be willing to give you a break for a month or work out a payment plan.
“Resolving the bill in the next 30 days is a critical step,” says Thomas Nitzsche, media relations manager at Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions. “This is the time to reach out to make a payment plan before it’s reported.”
Learn more: Click on another stage in the debt timeline below, or return to the full debt timeline.