You missed a credit card payment
. It's not good, but sometimes it happens. Don't spend too much time stressing over it and get to work minimizing the impact of this misstep. If you follow the tips below, you can hopefully avoid the worst of the negative effects to your credit as well as additional penalties, fees, and financial woe.
1. Make the Minimum Payment ASAP
If possible, make the minimum payment
as soon as you can. Most credit card issuers do not report late payments to credit bureaus until a payment is 30 days past due. Making even the minimum payment before the 30 days has passed could prevent your credit report from being negatively impacted by your missed payment. Keep in mind this isn't foolproof: some card issuers report missed payments immediately. Regardless, making some kind of payment on your credit card debt should be your first step.
2. Call Your Credit Card Issuer
Once you miss a payment, you are likely to see two charges on your account: a late fee and an interest on the balance. If the missed payment was merely an accident—and you have the financial means—your best move is to immediately pay off the balance of your account and call your credit card issuer to explain your error. If you are able to pay off the balance of your card, you can try asking for a refund on the late fee or any interest charges. They can approve or deny this request, but it is worth a shot.
If you missed a payment because you have fallen on difficult financial times, you should still call your card issuer. Many card issuers are currently offering relief for payments. You may be surprised at what you can negotiate with your credit card company. You can also ask about any changes to your account you can expect. Some companies will increase your interest rate after a missed payment, but by calling to explain your financial situation, you may be able to avoid this.
3. Set Up Automatic Payments
To help ensure that this doesn't happen again, you can set up automatic payments or sign up for an e-mail or text notification reminding you a payment will be due soon. You can sign up to pay the minimum each month on the due date or to pay off the balance in full from month to month to avoid paying interest fees.
4. Keep an Eye on Your Credit Report
Make sure you keep an eye on your credit report for a few months after a missed payment. You will want to check to see if the late payment is recorded on your credit report. If it is, it will remain on your report for seven years and will negatively affect your credit score. If your payment is over 180 days late, it is possible your credit card issuer will declare the debt a charge-off, meaning they will remove it from their books but you will still owe the debt. At this point, the debt can go into collections.
The longer you wait, the bigger the consequences
when it comes to dealing with a missed credit card payment. Don't put it off: make at least the minimum payment and call the credit card company. Acting quickly can save your credit and prevent the problem from snowballing out of control.