skip to main content

How Bad Is It to Miss a Credit Card Payment?

Written by
Samantha Rose
Samantha Rose is a personal finance writer covering financial literacy for OppU. Her work focuses on providing hands-on resources for high school and college-age students in addition to their parents and educators.
Read time: 5 min
Updated on December 15, 2023
man scratching his head and holding a credit card wondering how bad is it to miss a credit card payment?
A missed credit card payment can do lasting damage.

Your bill arrives. You make a mental note to pay it, but then something happens. You forget and now you’re past due. 

Is that bad? 

Well, it depends on how late your payment is and your credit history. For example, a late credit card payment could impact your credit score by 100-points-or-more if it reaches a 90 day delay. 

The best way to prevent damage is to avoid missed payments in the first place. But when they happen, there are a few things you should know. 

What happens if I miss a credit card payment?

A missed credit card payment can result in fees, increased interest rates, and a negative impact on your credit score. However, the impact varies on how many days your payment is past due.

When you miss a credit card payment, you usually have 30 days to pay before your creditor reports your late payment to the credit bureaus. This is called a "grace period," and missed payments which are subsequently made within the 30 day period typically won’t end up on your credit report

On the other hand, if you don’t pay within the grace period, the slipup will probably be reported to a credit reporting agency and will likely have a negative impact on your credit score. Additionally, you may also incur a late fee. One missed payment can lower your credit score and may remain on your credit report for up to seven years.

How does missing a payment affect my credit score?

As mentioned, once a credit card payment is 30 days past due, the credit card company will usually notify the three major credit bureaus. At this point, the missed payment will appear on a credit report and potentially cause significant damage to a credit score. The damage worsens once a bill hits 60 or 90 days past due. 

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 “fair” score of 607, while Consumer B started off with a “very good” score of 793. Here’s a summary of how their different credit profiles were impacted by a 30- and 90-day missed credit card payment.

Consumer A Consumer B
Current FICO Score 9 607 793
Score After Missed Payment (30 Days) 570-590 710-730
Points Lost 17-37
Score After Missed Payment (90 Days)
560-580 660-680
Points Lost 27-47 113-133

How long does a missed payment stay on a credit report?

In most cases, a missed credit card payment, also called a delinquency, will be removed from your credit report after seven years. Anyone who pulls your credit report before that date will have access to the delinquency information.

For example, if a 30-day late payment was reported in January 2023 and you returned the account to good standing in February 2023, this information will drop off from the credit report in January 2030. The same logic applies to consecutive missed payments.

What can I do if I miss a payment? 

If you miss a credit card payment, take action immediately. Here’s what to do to minimize the negative effects of a missed payment on your credit score.

Pay the minimum amount

The sooner, the better. If your payment is within the 30-day grace period, you can usually avoid a negative impact on your credit report. Reporting entities inform the credit bureaus of payments not made by the next billing cycle. However, if it’s more than 30 days past due, you can prevent further negative impact by paying at least the minimum amount due as soon as possible.

Call your creditor

Call your credit card issuer immediately. If this is your first late payment, try to negotiate. There’s a chance that the issuer will understand and waive any late fees for a first offense. In fact, some issuers don’t charge a fee at all.

What if my payment is only one day late?

If a payment is only one day late, it likely won’t be reflected on your credit report. Late payments are reported to the credit bureaus after a full billing cycle, which is typically 30 days. Pay at least the minimum amount due and refrain from making your payments late.

What if I only miss one payment?

If you only miss one payment, the damage depends on how quickly you pay your late bill. Pay at least the minimum amount due to bring your account into good standing within the 30-day grace period. Failure to do so will result in the missed payment being reported to the credit bureaus. Going forward, it is important to refrain from making a pattern of missed credit card payments. Take proactive measures to prevent such occurrences.

How do I prevent a missed payment?

The best way to prevent a missed credit card payment is by being proactive. Here are a few actions to take.

Pay on time

Ensure you have sufficient funds in your account to cover your upcoming credit card bills. Create a monthly budget, including your debts, to anticipate each month’s expenses. It’s important to set limits on personal spending. If you’re short on funds, consider cutting any non-essential expenses.

Pay at least the minimum

If you’re in a difficult financial position, try to make at least the minimum payment due on your credit card. This will keep your account in good standing while you resolve your financial situation. Call your issuer to discuss relief options; they might offer a financial hardship program.

Enroll in autopay

Most credit card issuers offer an automated way to pay your bills: autopay. Enroll in automatic payments for recurring credit card bills. You can set up to pay the minimum amount due, the total statement balance, or a custom amount. This will ensure you will never accidentally forget to make a payment. Peace of mind is a few minutes away — it’s that easy to enroll.

Set reminders and notifications

Rely on calendar reminders to never forget a bill payment. Set up a reminder in your phone app or through your email calendar. Email and text alerts are other great options. Receive a notification when your statement is available to view and pay it immediately. 

Change the due date

If you have multiple bills, the due dates likely fall on different days. It’s easier to lose track of multiple payment dates, so contact your credit card issuer to consolidate your payment due dates to a single day, ideally after you receive your paycheck.

Bottom line

Missing just one credit card payment can do lasting damage to your credit score. You should make every reasonable effort to prevent missed payments.

Please note the below article contains links to external sites outside of OppU and Opportunity Financial, LLC.  These sources, while vetted, are not affiliated with OppU. If you click on any of the links you will be sent to an external site with different terms and conditions that may differ from OppU’s policies. We recommend you do your own research before engaging in any products or services listed below. OppU is not a subject matter expert, nor does it assume responsibility if you decide to engage with any of these products or services.

California Residents, view the California Disclosures and Privacy Policy for info on what we collect about you.