How Bad Is It to Miss a Credit Card Payment?

How

A single missed payment can do lasting damage to your credit score.

Our latest episode of OppU Answers digs into a question that a lot of people have probably had at one point or another: How bad is it to miss a credit card or loan payment?

The short answer? Pretty bad. In fact, maybe 100-points-or-more bad.

A single late credit card or loan payment will impact people differently (largely based on their credit history), but the results will never be good. FICO, the company that provides the most widely used credit score, compared the effect of a late payment on two hypothetical consumers. In their test, Consumer A started off with a “good” score of 680, while Consumer B started off with a “very good” score of 780.

FICO found that after just one 30-day delinquency, Consumer A’s score dropped 60 to 80 points, slipping to the lower end of what’s considered a “fair” credit score. Consumer B’s score dropped even more, tumbling 90 to 110 points. This is because the higher a consumer’s credit score, the greater the effect a black mark will have on it.       

Consumer AConsumer B
Current FICO Score680780
Score After Missed Payment600-620670-690
Points Lost60-8090-110

Want to learn more and get tips on how to avoid missing a payment in the first place? Our latest episode of OppU Answers has you covered. 


Transcript

What Happens If I Miss a Credit Card or Loan Payment?

Hey OppU Answers! I’m a little low on cash this month. Exactly how bad would it be if I skipped my loan or credit card payment—just this once?

It seems like it shouldn’t be a big deal, right? After all, how much could one missed $70 payment really affect your life?

Turns out, it can get bad.

When you miss a credit card or loan payment, you typically have 30 days to pay up before your credit card company or loan servicer reports your late payment to the credit bureaus. But once they do, you’re gonna get dinged.

I’ve never missed a payment before. What’s one short-term slip-up gonna do?

According to FICO data, even someone with a 780 credit score and a spotless payment history could see a 90- to 110-point drop in their credit from just ONE 30-day delinquency.  

How Long Does It Take to Repair Damage From a Missed Payment?

But if it drops that quickly, it shouldn’t take long for me to build it back up, right?

Wrong. Once you get a black spot on your credit, it can take up to SEVEN YEARS to get it off. Even if you never make another late payment, anyone who pulls your credit report is going to be able to see that one mistake for basically the next decade.

How Can I Avoid Missing a Credit Card or Loan Payment?

The best way to keep your credit out of the fire is to make sure you pay all your bills on time.

If you’re short on cash this month, sit down and make up a budget, and cut out anything that’s not essential. Those $45 lobster lunches might be tasty, but you know what’s not tasty? Getting rejected for credit card and loan applications for the next seven years because you missed one payment.

If you’re struggling, try to at least make the minimum payment on your credit card, or call your loan company and see if you can work out a fix. Set up automatic payments on all your recurring expenses, so you won’t accidentally dock your score when your bill slips your mind.


If you have a money question burning a hole in your pocket, drop us a line on Twitter @OppUniversity. And be sure to check out our financial literacy lessons for more money tips!