Imagine this scenario: it’s the fifth of the month, and you suddenly realize you forgot to make your credit card payment, which was due four days ago. Suddenly you’re looking at late fees, penalties, and a potential interest rate increase.
Anyone can miss a credit card payment. At one time or another, it happens to most people. But what can you do to get back on track? Here are a few quick pointers.
Make Your Payment ASAP
Most credit card companies won’t report a missed credit card payment to the credit bureaus right away. Normally, they wait until a payment is 30 days past due before they make a report. So if you’re just a few days late, make your payment immediately. As long as you make at least the minimum payment, the missed payment won’t appear on your credit report, and your credit score will remain intact.
Remember, late payments will remain on your credit record for seven years. That’s a steep price to pay for a single missed payment. By paying immediately, you won’t have to carry that financial baggage for years.
Requesting leniency won’t absolve you from your obligations – you still have to pay at least the minimum balance. But a lender may agree to waive any late fees. If you’re using the Discover IT card or the City Double Cash card, the late fee will automatically be waived for your first late payment. If you’re using any other card, you’ll have to call your lender and request leniency. Most lenders will want you to explain why the fee was late, and they’ll typically grant your request if you’ve made all your other payments on time.
If the creditor refuses leniency, you’ll just have to eat the fee and take it as a hard lesson. If this is your first missed payment, your fee will be a maximum of $28 or your minimum payment, whichever is lower. If you’ve been late before in the last six months, this fee can rise as high as $40. As you can see, late payments can get expensive.
Set a Reminder or Use Autopay
If you have trouble remembering when your bills are due, you’re not alone. Between utilities, streaming services, and other bills, it can be tough to keep track of what gets paid when. To avoid future missed payments, it helps to have a system.
One easy way is simply to set an alarm on your phone, or in an online calendar like Google Calendar. It’s a good idea to do this for all your bills, not just your credit card bills. That way, you never have to worry about forgetting.
Another option is to schedule email alerts. There’s actually a service for this, called FollowUpThen. To schedule a reminder, you just send an email, and you’ll get a repeating reminder in the future. For example, if you want to get reminders on the third of the month, you’d send an email to Every3rd@FollowUpThen.com. Don’t include any personal information like your credit card number. Just send a blank email, and you’ll get a reminder on the same day every month until you unsubscribe from the service.
With all of that being said, the easiest way of all is never to have to remember. In most cases, you’ll be able to set up automatic payments through your bank’s online portal. Because it can take time for bank transfers to happen, it’s good to set your autopayment a couple of days before your bill’s due date. This eliminates the human element altogether, making it the best way to ensure your bills get paid. You’ll have to keep watch on your account, though, to make sure you maintain a sufficient balance.
What About My Interest Rate?
If you’re only a few days late, or even a couple of weeks, you don’t have to worry about your interest rate going up. By law, creditors aren’t allowed to raise your interest rate unless you’re at least 60 days past due.
There’s an exception, though. If you’re currently enjoying a promotional rate, the creditor can end the promotional period early, immediately raising your rate to the standard rate for that particular card.
Missed Card Payment FAQs
- What are the negative effects of a missed credit card payment? If you’re less than 30 days late, there may be no negative effects. After 30 days, the creditor may report the missed payment, damaging your credit score.
- How long does a missed card payment remain on my credit record? Like most other negative items on your credit report, a missed credit card payment will remain for seven years.