Missed a Credit Card Payment? Here’s What Happens.
We all make financial mistakes now and then. But missing a credit card payment is one you should try your best to avoid. Not only can it throw off your whole budget (you’ll have to pay twice as much or more next month), even one missed payment can have lasting negative effects on your credit. Here’s what happens and what to do if you miss a credit card payment.
Time is On Your Side (sort of)
If you miss a credit card payment date, you’ll want to act fast to remedy the situation. That’s because what counts as “late” has varying definitions. As far as your creditor is concerned, even missing the payment date by a few hours counts as a late payment (more on those consequences in a moment). However, by law, they can’t report the payment as late to the credit bureaus until it hits 30 days.
Make a Payment Immediately
So the date has come and gone and you forgot to make your payment. As long as you pay within 30 days, the credit bureaus won’t find out about it. Make at least the minimum payment due as soon as you remember (or have the money available). But, whatever you do, don’t let it go past the 30-day mark.
There are Still Consequences
Even though creditors can’t report late payments to the credit bureaus until the 30-day mark, they can still penalize you for paying even one day late. Penalties can include late fees (generally $25-$35, reflected on your next statement), as well as a potential interest rate hike to a penalty rate that can be as high as almost 30%. Missing payments by even a few days can cost you a lot of money, and knock you off track financially.
Take Steps to Prevent Paying Late
If your budget allows, set up your accounts on auto pay so you never have to worry about missing a payment. When that’s not possible due to inconsistent income, you can still set up your accounts to send you text and/or email reminders for payment due dates. You can also set your own calendar reminders in your phone, planner or calendar.
Talk to Your Creditors
There may be a time when you simply can’t afford to make a payment within the 30-day window. When that happens, you need to call the creditor directly to let them know. Many major creditors offer short-term hardship programs that can help you get back on track without damaging your credit. These are only temporary solutions, however.
For a long-term solution that can help you pay off your credit card debt more quickly, start with our free financial review. Whether you complete your session by phone or online, you’ll receive a personalized budget and recommendations for eliminating your debt.