Just because your wallet got hit with a late payment fee for an overlooked bill doesn’t mean your credit report got hit with a negative mark.
Theoretically, you can incur a late fee for being even 30 minutes late with a payment. Many creditors automatically impose a fee when your due date passes without a payment posted to your account. But if you’ve never or rarely been late before, your chances of getting a credit card issuer to reverse a late fee are pretty good.
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When is a payment reported late?
You don’t have to worry about a creditor reporting a payment that was a few days late.
Credit bureaus don’t consider a payment late until it is 30 days past due. So while your mortgage holder or credit card issuer may charge you extra for paying three weeks after the due date, your credit score should be none the worse for it.
Credit bureaus don’t consider a payment late until it is 30 days past due.
The gold standard for reporting late payments to credit bureaus comes from the Credit Reporting Resource Guide, a standardized way for creditors to comply with federal law. Your payment can’t be reported late until it’s at least 30 days past due. You may be getting letters and phone calls about that overdue payment, but as far as the credit bureaus and your credit scores are concerned, the account is “current and in good standing.”
Knowingly and intentionally reporting you late when the bill is not at least 30 days past its due date violates federal law.
That said, late is not an all-or-nothing issue. Thirty days late is bad, but it’s not as bad as 60, which is not as bad as 90. The sooner you can catch up, the less damage to your credit and the sooner your score can start to recover.
How do I know if I have a late payment on my credit report?
How long does a late payment stay on my credit report?
There’s no bigger single factor affecting your credit score than on-time payments, so a late payment is going to sting. It stays on your credit report for seven years after the account was initially reported late.
How long does a late payment affect your credit score?
A late payment’s impact fades with time. If you have otherwise spotless credit and a good score, though, a late payment can knock as much as 100 points off your credit score.
If your score is already low, and you have multiple late payments, it won’t hurt it as much. You can’t change the past — but if your credit behavior from here on out shows that you pay on time, every time, that will be reflected in your score.
How can I get a late payment removed from my credit report?
If it never should have been there, you can dispute it with the credit bureau or bureaus reporting it. Or you can go directly to the company that reported it. However, legitimate late payments are likely to stay on your credit reports for seven years.
Will a partial payment keep me from being reported late?
It can feel like a good-faith effort to at least send something when you can’t afford the minimum payment or the regular monthly payment. There’s a persistent myth that doing so can keep your account from being sent to collections or reported late. But partial payments are not a way to avoid being reported late or sent to collections.
How not to be late in the first place
Being a few hours or days late is not a crime. But if it happens a lot, those late fees will add up. Some strategies to help you avoid them:
- Select payment due dates that are either at the same time, if that works for you, or staggered, such as on the first and 15th of the month. Many credit card issuers allow you to select your due date.
- Set up text alerts that remind you about bills due in a few days. If you need more than one, set up multiple electronic nudges.
- Consider using automatic payments, but be sure to have enough money in your account so you don’t get hit with overdraft fees. Auto-pay works well with bills that are the same every month, like your car payment. It may not work so well with ones that can vary tremendously, like your credit card bill the month the refrigerator died and your car needed a new transmission days after you returned home from vacation.