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Can One Late Payment Affect My Credit Score?

Written by Equifax Experts on February 7, 2014 in Credit  |   64 comments

Under certain circumstances, such as a job loss or illness, late payments may be unavoidable. Since payment history is weighted heavily when calculating your credit score, it’s important to understand the impact that these late payments may have.

information on my credit reportEven if you normally pay your bills on time, an unexpected financial emergency, a lost job, or even a simple oversight could cause you to fall behind on your payments.

If you miss a payment on one of your credit accounts, be it a credit card, mortgage, or other loan, you could see your credit score drop. As a result, lenders may view you less favorably.

Lenders use the information on your credit report to gauge your risk as a borrower, and your payment history has the strongest impact on your credit score. While a history of on-time payments suggests you are a consumer who will likely repay your debt on time, a history of late payments could suggest to creditors that you are a risky borrower.

If you have a payment that is more than 30 days late, your creditor may report it to the credit reporting agencies (CRAs). In this case, the late payment can show up on your credit report and be factored into your credit score. Late payments will be listed on your credit report depending on how late they are: 30 days late, 60 days late, 90 days late, 120 days late, 150 days late, or charged off.

But how much of an effect does one late payment really have on my credit score?

The degree to which a late payment may affect your credit score can depend on multiple factors. When it comes to your FICO credit score, for example, a late payment will be evaluated based on how severe it is, how recent it is, and how frequently you’ve paid late.

Each credit reporting agency has its own model for evaluating your information and assigning you a credit score, so your scores will vary between the agencies. You should also know that your credit scores are updated each time there is a request for a score, and new information received impacts the model.

In general, though, the longer a bill goes unpaid, the more damaging the effect it has on your credit score. For example, all other things being equal, a payment that is 90 days late can have a more significant negative impact on your credit score than a payment that is 30 days late. In addition, the more recent the late payment, the more negative of an impact it could have.

One late payment could have a more significant impact on higher credit scores. According to FICO data, a 30-day delinquency could cause as much as a 90- to 110-point drop on a FICO Score of 780 for a consumer who has never missed a payment on any credit account.

In comparison, a consumer with a 680 FICO Score and two late payments (a 90-day delinquency on a credit card account from two years ago and a 30-day delinquency on an auto loan from a year ago) would experience a 60- to 80-point drop after being hit with another 30-day delinquency.

If you miss a payment (even just one) on one of your credit accounts, the late payment could remain on your credit report for up to seven years. If you fall in the habit of paying late, your account could be charged off or sent to collections, which could further dent your credit score.

In addition to lowering your credit score, a late payment could also cost you in the form of late fees and higher interest rates. If you pay your credit card bill even one day late, for example, you could be charged a late fee. Your creditors may also raise your interest rate if you regularly miss payments, which would mean you’d have to pay more money in order to carry a balance.

I’ve missed a payment. What should I do now?

If you do have unpaid bills, consider taking these five steps take to help you gradually improve your creditworthiness over time:

1. Make a budget in order to pay off bills as soon as possible. Because a late payment can cause more damage to your credit score the longer it goes unpaid, the sooner you can pay it off, the better.

2. Continue on-time payments on your accounts that are paid as agreed. If you find yourself late on one of your credit accounts, stay current with all of your other accounts.

3. Consider automatic payments or electronic reminders. This can be particularly helpful if paying your bills tends to slip your mind. You can also set email or text message reminders to help you stay current with your accounts.

4. Contact your creditors to work out a payment plan. If you know you are going to be late on one of your accounts, a payment plan may help you avoid a blemish on your credit report.

5. Regularly monitor your credit report. By doing so, you can keep tabs on your payment history and ensure that late payments fall off of your credit report after the appropriate amount of time has elapsed. If you want to see how certain credit actions, such as late payments, could affect your credit score, consider enrolling in an Equifax credit monitoring product in order to access Equifax’s Interactive Score Simulator.

The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Equifax for your kind reminder. I am trying to avoid late payments like the plague, and have succeeded thus far. Thanks again for your reminder,
    Keith Van Soest.

  2. ken says:

    I have missed a car payment 1st one ever. Due to a computer error of making an online payment, can they take the late payment record of of my report?

    • Cletus Davenport says:

      If you fixed the computer online payment error and made the payment within 30 days. Then, there should not be a late payment on you Credit Report. You still may have to pay a late payment fee. I hope this helps.

      low score 590, now 725

    • Al says:

      You have to prove that there is an error and maybe, just maybe they will take it off. Most companies are reluctant to admit errors because they get rated also and of course…they don’t make errors.

    • David says:

      Ken, if the error was on the part of the lender, you should sit down with the lender and try to straighten it out. If that doesn’t help, file a dispute with the credit agencies. But by all means, be sure to pay all future bills in time. Eventually, that one missed payment will have less and less of an impact on your FICO score.

  3. Mike M says:

    If a payment is a week late is it reported as late?
    Thanks for the info.

    • Cletus Davenport says:

      Creditors normally only report late payments greater than 30 days late or greater to the Credit Reporting Agencies(CRA). You still may be charged a late payment fee, but that is only between you and your Creditor,not CRA. I hope this help you out.

      Score was 590, now 725

    • Al says:

      Companies will tell you that it is not reported late until after 30 days from payment date. So I wonder why it shows up as late on the FICO or whatever the loan company receives as credit data? If you notice they hardly ever show you what they get because their report is different than what you get from the reporting companies (you know the ones you are entitled to see). Just ask them and compare. It seems that you should be legally entitles to see exactly what they get…just ask them.

  4. Concerned says:

    I think it is counter-productive to keep one late payment on a person’s credit report for up to 7 years. A person who has never had a late payment, and then, due to illness or job loss has a bad month, has little incentive to try to recover from a lower credit score that will result in higher interest rates and other late payment sanctions that serve to hinder their financial recovery. If a person declares bankruptcy, then 7-10 years later, the information can be removed from their credit report. However, if the person tries to pay off their bill in a timely manner, then the 7 years of credit report recording of the delinquent account(s) begins when the last transaction/payment is made. In this case, the information will continue to appear on a person’s credit report long past seven or ten years from the date of the delinquency

  5. William says:

    I had an autopay setup with HSBC on an account with a very low balance. HSBC stopped the autopay after 6 months. I was unaware and the account with only a balance of $200 went late. I received no calls from HSBC until the account was well over 30 days late. Despite my pleas to HSBC to consider its actions, HSBC refused to withdraw the mark on my credit. It’s the only mark of its kind on my credit for the last 30 years, and unfortunately it happened less than two years ago.

    • Steve says:

      I just had a very similar thing happen to me, William. My first late payment (36 days) in over 20 years on ANYTHING.

      What sort of impact did it have on your credit score, please?

    • Jeanne W. says:

      I don’t believe I made any late
      Payments I
      don’t know what going on

  6. Anonymous says:

    I forgot to pay about $60 for 60 days in one of my credit accounts 2 years back.. when will I see my credit score going up?

  7. Sidney says:

    Can the creditor remove the late payment before 7 years

    • EFX Moderator_KB says:

      Sidney, the length of time information remains on your credit report varies. Accounts paid as agreed will generally stay on your credit report for up to 10 years from the date of last activity. In general, negative information will stay on your credit report for seven years from the date of last activity. Click here to learn more details about how long it could take for a creditor to remove a late payment. I hope this helps and thanks for posting.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Mike M – it’s “late” to the creditor, but a credit report will not show anything that does not hit the 30-day mark.

  9. Ron W. says:

    My Credit Score was 813, it dropped to 660 as one mortgage payment was late.

    Here is what happened. In Nov 13, I was out of country for 3 months, during that period Mortgage Company realized that they didn’t accrue my escrow correctly so decided to change my monthly installment. Which I was not aware of as I didn’t have access to my mail.

    My bank sent them the payment with old amount which the mortgage company did not apply. By the time I returned, it was already 30 days past due. 🙁

    So, in spite of having impeccable credit record, I will have the late payment for next 7 years. And years to restore my credit score for no fault of mine. 🙁

  10. B. Leonard says:

    I can say from experience that a payment made even one day late will show up on your credit report. However, unless you make more than one slightly late payment per year per account, it should have a minimal effect on your score. What really hurts are repeated late payments on an account and/or paying 30 days or more after the due date.

  11. Michael R says:

    I recently discovered that a reported late payment ( reported in error )by a bank that was allegedly corrected is now showing up again. I disputed this with Equifax and after i filed the dispute my 770 score dropped by 56 points. I called Equifax and they stated that they remove the account until the dispute is resolved. This is ubsured !! now that the bank is resolving the issue the score jumped back up to 770 but still reflects the 30 day late. I’m told this should take a week to completely take care of this problem. By the way they still dont have my zero balances correct. These people govern our credit lives, GOD HELP US

  12. ronnie says:

    I am curious .. i had a credit score of 709 (good) then I missed a credit card payment and didn’t pay after 3 weeks. I looked up my credit score and now it’s 688 (fair) what possibly went wrong? I thought I had 30 days till it reports to collection. Why did my score go down?

  13. ronnie says:

    Cont. Would my missing a payment and making a payment after 3 weeks damage my credit score ? Please help.

  14. Cathy S says:

    I was late ONCE on my DTE Energy bill, the previous month I paid 80% of my previous bill on time. It went on my credit score. After that- I paid in full and on time for 6 months in a row ( and have continued to do so) but they gave me another negative rating which is obviously an ERROR.

  15. Mike H. says:

    It’s pathetic to know that the average person has multiple credit errors on all three of their reports. Credit bureaus should be more regulated than they are and should be legally and finacially responsible when constant errors are made to someone’s report!

  16. Ram says:


    I missed my credit card payment for 57 days and the amount was $7. My credit was dropped from 780 to 708. So when will my credit card come back to previous one.

  17. mirabo says:

    I made a car payment on time within the 30 day grace period. I show that my payment was taken out of my account on the same day which was the 29th of a 31 day month at 2:00pm but the car company did not post the payment until the “the next business day” which was the 2nd of the month and my payment is due on the 1st. They reported me to the credit bureau and now my score has dropped by 51 points! I called and they will not remove from my report so I am disputing it but is there any consumer protection here? I have never been late on any of my payments and this payment which I have proof of was made and the funds taken from my checking account on time any advice?

    • Ryan says:

      I have almost the exact same situation. Unfortunately, the game is tilted mostly in the creditor’s favor, not the consumer’s, though recent legislation (like FCRA and FACT) have helped even the playing filed slightly. There are steps you can take. It’s a lot of work, but it’s probably worth it if the accuracy of your credit history is important to you.

      1. Always dispute in writing. Disputing online forces you to agree to arbitration (creditor favorable) and not use the court system (more fair).
      2. File a dispute, by mail, to both the credit reporting agency (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) and the creditor. Submit as much supporting evidence as possible. Write a brief description of your dispute and keep the language simple.
      3. Add a statement to your report through the credit reporting agency stating that the report has the following error(s).
      4. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against the credit reporting agency and the creditor.
      5. File a complaint with the state banking and lending regulator (for example, New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance) against the creditor.
      6. File a complaint with the state consumer protection agency (for example, New Jersey Office of Consumer Protection) against the creditor.
      7. File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau against the credit reporting agency and the creditor.
      8. Contact your congressional representative and senators.
      9. File a lawsuit against the credit reporting agency for “negligent or willful noncompliance with the law” according to the FCRA. This can generally be done in county small claims court.

  18. aaa says:

    I made a payment on the due date of 45 dollars not knowing the payment was actually 47 and the next month made a payment of 50 not aware of the late fee being added to the previous month so what was suppose to be paid was 75 so got charged another fee so am I considered 45 days late? I payed the balance I was needing to for the previous and current month as well.

  19. kath says:

    If youre late at least two days on your loan does it affect your credit?

  20. Alexis says:

    Will it show as a late payment on my credit if I paid my credit card 1 day late?

  21. Cynthia says:

    Hi all 3 credit bureaus are reporting a late car payment for the month of October. I called the company who holds my car loan, they are say that they don’t show any late payments. I DO NOT want to open a dispute. I think it takes too long and most times never resolved. How can I get this removed from my credit?

    • Ryan says:

      Send a written dispute to the creditor and the credit reporting agency (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion). Briefly explain the reason for your dispute in plain language and submit whatever evidence you have. They must investigate and resolve within 30 days. This is not a lot of effort.

    • Jeffrey says:

      By opening a dispute.

  22. Mousey222 says:

    I had a collection agency report a bogus loan on my credit report with (2) 120 day lates, one is 2013 and one in 2014. I just received a letter from them that they are removing it since I hired an attorney. How much can I expect my score to jump?

  23. J.S. says:

    I do not understand why someone with a good credit history gets a worse penalty than someone with a bad credit history. That makes absolutely no sense to me.

    Imagine a person who has never committed a crime accidentally bumps a car in a parking lot, leaves a note, and offers to pay for the damage. That person is put in jail for 30 days and is left with a permanent criminal record.

    Yet the person who has committed several crimes (b & e’s, assault, etc..) punches a woman on the street while trying to steal her purse gets 1 week in jail and a footnote on their criminal record.

    This may seem like a dramatic example, but it is the reality of how credit scoring works. I can honestly not make sense of this system and feel appalled that this is allowed to happen.

  24. Aj r. says:

    Iv missed a payment with Mercedes but I paid it 14 days later they have now put down a missed payment on my credit score. The thing is iv always been told I have upto 30 days after the direct debit is due to pay it and it won’t affect my report/score on other debts over the years if iv missed iv always paid them in the 30 days and never had a problem.this is the only blemish on my report iv always had an excellent score. Is Mercedes right to do this? How long will this affect my report/score?

    Thanks for your help

  25. aa says:


    just a question i have missed a payment with sears and paid 6 days later. Will that effect my score

  26. Elaine P says:

    how can i find out what bill is delinquent(reason for my drop in FICO score) according to explanation on my Discover bill.

    I always pay my bills way before they are due. Not sure what is delinquent???

  27. Tom says:

    I have 2 30 days late on my credit report within the last 2 years. I have paid off the balances of these credit cards since then. I am attempting to get the 30 days late taken off of my credit report. I am looking to get a mortgage within the next year. As of right now, all of my accounts are paid in full but not closed. I have contacted my credit card companies and requested a max balance increase. They have raised them to $15,000 & $10, 000. Are there any things I could do within the next year to increase my credit score?

  28. Michael says:

    According to MyFICO, my credit scores range from 782 to 798. The only bad thing on my credit report is a 30-day late payment that happened over 6 years ago. Even with a late payment, my credit scores are getting dinged. I would love to be in the 800 club just for my own personal goal and I probably won’t get there until AFTER the late payment is removed – which is Feb 2016.

    Does anyone have a late payment with a score above 800? Just curious.

  29. Simona says:

    Does it effect my credit score if I was late 2 days?

  30. Anonymous says:

    If I pay my credit card on the due date but after the posting period where it will post on the next day, will that affect my credit score?

  31. Aldo says:

    I had been paying for a friend a bill and he said he was going to pay the last one but didn’t. I ended up getting a call from I think collections two months later and to this day it is still on my credit report. What’s a fast way to fix this?

  32. Kris says:

    I have a car loan in my name which my brother took over the payment 3 years ago he’s been late 11 times screwing up my credit it has dropped 150 points since I last checked it. What doago? I do, the lenders know I don’t have the vehicle he does and he took over the payments 3 years but continue to punish me for him being late.

  33. Tawanda D. says:

    I made my payment a day late but did not pay the late fee until two months later. Can I still have a late payment placed on my credit for every month the late fee from the previous mohth was not paid?

  34. Mark says:

    How can Equifax report 100% ontime payments for over two years and then in less than one month, infact, less than a two week period report over 30 late/missing payments. Yet a review of my credit report shows, all creditors report either no information or no missed payments.?
    Can someone answer that question


  35. Jo says:

    My car payment is due the 22nd . I always pay the 21st, but today is Saturday and banks close early, and on Sundays they are closed. If my car payment is one day late since I have to pay it Monday will it have a drastic change in my credit score? I have never missed a payment. My car is under a credit union. Will they have no choice but to report it???

    • Tam says:

      They will probably add a late payment fee but they cannot report this to the credit reporting agency unless it is 30 days past due.

      • Anonymous says:

        how will it effect my credit report if my min payment was due on the 31st and not paid until the 10/11th?

  36. Martyn says:

    I missed one car payment this month due to a direct debit issue, they tried to take the money before i was paid so i had insufficent funds in my account. I paid the following day but it has appeared on my report and knocked my score down by 140. It was my first ever late payment. Is there anything i can do?

  37. Linda M. says:

    If you are a co-signer of a mortgage and the people moved the bank account to another one and they were less than a week late because they didn’t go through the proper channels of getting signatures for the change, will it affect the credit score of the co-signers

  38. Anonymous says:

    I just had this happen to me, only i didnt forget to pay my bill. lol I’ve spent over 30k on credit cards the last couple years.. I have never even come close to missing a payment, i pay off my cards pretty much the next day because otherwise they couldn’t get used because of reaching the credit limit. Anyways I had one issue with Kohls.. Spent $27 on 1/17/16, got the paper statement a month later, so i sent in a check through the mail… Now on 3/17/16 or 3/18/16 i get an email saying my payment is late and that i have a fee of $25. Now my credit score dropped 70 points!!!!! From a stupid $27 charge!!!!!! How can i even prove that i sent a check??? this has happened to me before with my Taxes… i sent 2 checks for 2 different payments from owing on my taxes, they get 1 check but the not the other…. and both were in the same envelope. Anyways, why do they lower your score sooo much from just one error? i can see maybe missing a couple payments but not from one stupid $27 purchase out of all the 30k ive spent in 2 years…. ofcourse it takes forever to get it back up.

  39. Kathy N says:

    Kohl’s did the same thing to me! I pay my credit card balances off every month and I have never had a late payment on anything (mortgage, credit cards,etc.) They said it signed up for e-bill, which I don’t remember doing, so I didn’t realize I had a balance ($95). I was 30 days late and once I realized it I paid it immediately. I asked if they could “forgive” this one time error and I was basically told “Sorry Charlie”. In addition the put a comment on my credit report “customer dispute” which is affecting my refi on my home. When asked if they would remove this comment again they were no help! I cancelled my account w/ Kohl’s and will NEVER do business with them again. They have cause nothing but grieve and negatively effected my credit score for $95.00

  40. Tim J. says:

    I had a negative balance in a bank account (checking) of $46 that I was not aware of. The bank then ended up writing it off and reported this to the credit agencies. They never contacted me. I became aware of this issue when a credit card renewal came across with a higher rate because of the drop in my credit score (from the 800’s to 715). of course once I became aware of the issue I sent a check to pay off the negative balance. I also wrote the bank that I was not aware asking them to please remove the ding to my credit. They refused and told me that that monthly statements had showed the negative balance. Problem was the statements were on line only, not mailed and I had quit looking at them because I no longer used the account. Never once did they call or write me to rectify the account prior to their drastic action. I wrote the bureaus also, to no avail. I have had excellent credit scores for over 30 years. Unbelievable the impact of such a minor incident! Criminal actually. Lesson learned, always close via phone an inactive bank account!!

  41. Kevin N. says:

    I had an insurance bill that needed to be paid on May 22. I was in training and forgot to set up a automatic payment so I did not pay it until Jun 08 (Which is 18 days late). Will it be reported and affect my credit history as well as my credit score? Thanks for any answer!

  42. Raul says:

    I need help with questions please. I am in the process of trying to qualify for a mortgage, I lowered my credit card to 18% DTI and was also added as an authorized user on a chace credit card. However my student loans reported a 90day late on my credit and dropped my score from 634 to 584 (mid Score) I disputed the error with financial aid and they have accepted the error and have reported to the agency to correct error. I just checked my FAKO score TU and EQUIFAX have updated system to reflect “no Missed payments” on my student loans (13 of them). My friends CHace credit card is still not reflecting on my credit I was added 40 days ago.
    Does anyone know how long before chace appears on my credit, I have contacted chace and they say they have already reported 2 times to the agencies and know it is up to them to update their system and also does anyone know how much my score will increase with the federal loans reflecting “no late payments”..
    I need to have my score increase to 650.

  43. Steven I. says:

    I filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy one of my accounts are showing up as late closed and included in my bk now this is on my recent credit report, i disputed this saying how could i make a payment on something that was included in my bankruptcy, if this is corrected and the late payment status is removed how much will my credit score increase

  44. Carmine M. says:

    I made a regular payment, on time, of $500 to a creditor. There was a $5 late fee from the month before that did not get included in the payment. Can non-payment of that late fee be reported to the credit rating companies as a bad payment and have a negative effect on my score?

  45. Mitch P says:

    I have just done an auto refi with what appears to be a flaky outfit, and they have been late in paying off the account with the original lender. My payment has been overdue a week, but they said “don’t pay it…we’re taking care of it” but they haven’t. I am worried that being overdue is killing my credit rating, and now want to make overdue payment and tell they re-fi outfit they have killed the deal.

    Wondering if I can make a comment about this on my credit profile.

  46. Neil says:

    I paid my Walmart card about 15 hours late once or twice in the past. Would that effect my credit at all? Thanks

  47. darline c says:

    Nice suggestions . I learned a lot from the information , Does someone know where I could locate a template FL 12.932 form to fill in ?

    • EFX Moderator says:

      Thank you for your comment, Darline. We’re glad you found the information helpful.disabledupes{041ffe9f3ca6b86e5c12b3921763abc8}disabledupes

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