Late credit card payments can negatively impact your credit score, but if a late payment appears on your credit report in error you may be able to have it removed.
Generally, late payments drop off your credit history after 7 years, but it is important to get your credit card back in good standing as soon as possible.
Late credit card payments and your credit score
When you receive a statement from your credit card issuer, you will have at least 21 days to make a payment. That is, card companies must send statements to their customers three weeks or more before any payment is due.
If you make a payment after that due date, you will be in late-payment territory. However, your credit card issuer may not immediately report late payments to the credit bureaus, which are the companies that collect payment data that factor into your credit score. Depending on the issuer, some don't report late payments until they are past due a certain number of days so you should check your credit card agreement for more information.
Why a slightly late payment may not influence your credit score
To your card issuer, a payment made even a single day after the due date is "late." The company will begin charging interest, and possibly fees, on any and all payments made after the due date.
However, your card issuer will typically only report late payments to the credit bureaus when they are 30 days or more overdue. In other words, if you pay one credit card bill a few days late, your credit score is unlikely to be impacted.
How much of your credit score can be affected by a late payment
Because payment history is one of the biggest components of your credit score, just one 30-day-or-more late payment can negatively impact your score. Credit scores are predictive, meaning they use past data to predict a person's future credit behavior. Thus, a reported late payment can reduce your score significantly.
This may seem scary, but you can improve your credit health by getting and keeping all of your accounts in good standing. A few months of good credit habits could help reduce the impact of one late payment.
Late payments can have a much greater negative impact on your credit score if you make a very late payment (e.g., greater than 90 days) or if you have a repeated pattern of paying late.
How long late payments stay on your credit report
Late payments can remain on your credit report for 7 years. Still, one late payment isn't likely to reflect poorly on your creditworthiness permanently, as long as you generally make payments on time. And assuming good credit behavior, your credit score should rebound from a single late payment over time.
How to remove a late payment from your credit report
Unfortunately, an actual late payment is nearly impossible to remove from your credit report even if you were able to convince your card issuer to waive any fees you may have been charged.
Still, late payments sometimes get reported erroneously to the credit bureaus and can be disputed.
Do the following to dispute late payments on your credit report:
- Order your credit report(s). You are entitled to one credit report annually from each of the three credit bureaus: Experian®, Equifax®, and TransUnion®. You can order all three at once or stagger them over the course of the year. Get your report here.
- Review your past and current credit activity. While your credit report can be requested above, we also recommend setting up credit report monitoring through Chase Credit Journey.
- Analyze your report and activity carefully. All of your credit accounts (home loans, credit cards, retail accounts, etc.) should be listed on your report. Look at each account line-by-line. If you see late payments or accounts that you don't recognize, be prepared to file a dispute.
- Contact your card issuer or the credit bureaus to dispute any erroneously reported late payments. By law, your card company must keep up-to-date records of your credit behavior. If you successfully dispute a late payment, the card company has to contact all three of the credit bureaus to ensure their records are correct.
- Order follow-up credit reports to ensure your disputes were processed correctly. Look closely at the accounts for which you had filed a dispute. Please note that if you've already requested a credit report from each of the three credit bureaus in the calendar year, another report may come with a fee.
Protecting your credit score from late payments and more
A late payment can lower your credit score, but if a late payment appears on your credit report erroneously you should be able to get it removed. To keep your credit score trending in the right direction, and to minimize the negative effect of even one late payment, be sure to make at least the minimum payment on your credit cards on or before the due date.