How Can I Save My Credit Score After a Late Payment?

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

TPG Twitter follower Eddie made a very late payment on one of his credit cards and is worried about how it will affect his credit score:

“‪@thepointsguy‬ I accidentally forgot and paid my Club Carlson Business Visa bill 36 days late! How do I save my credit score?”

When I saw this tweet come in from Eddie I responded and told him to call US Bank and explain the situation. The quicker you catch a mistake with a bank or issuer, the better your odds are that they will give you a pass so it won’t have a negative affect on your credit.

Screen Shot 2013-07-26 at 11.02.03 AM

Getting a late payment dropped is critical because 35% of your credit score is payment history so making payments on time, even if it’s just the minimum amount, is crucial. Although you don’t have to pay your bill off in full every month, if you do it will certainly help the portion of your score that considers how much credit you are utilizing compared to your total amount of credit, which is another 30% of your total score.

In Eddie’s case, when he contacted US Bank they told him that luckily they don’t report late payments until 90 days past due for their business accounts. This is actually pretty generous, since most issuers will report a late payment right away or at least in the next billing cycle.

Mint.com lets you link all credit card and bank accounts so you know when payments are due and if you're getting hit with fees.
Mint.com lets you link all credit card and bank accounts so you know when payments are due and if you’re getting hit with fees.

I’ve had mistakes here and there where my checking account didn’t link properly or a payment wasn’t processed on time and I missed a due date, but since then I’ve learned that the best thing to do is set up autopay for every single account even if it’s just for the minimum payment. Keep in mind, autopay isn’t perfect. Even if your cards are on autopay, there can be mistakes, which is why I like to use mint.com. Through the website or mobile application you can link all of your credit cards and bank accounts and be alerted when payments are due or if there were any sort of fees charged to your account.

To avoid late or missed payments in the future, definitely set up auto pay for all of your accounts and if you have any questions about a payment, fee or charge call the issuer right away to try to get the problem sorted out. It never hurts to ask about getting a late payment dropped and if you’re a good customer most issuers will do it for you – especially for a first-time mistake. If you’re having trouble with the representative when you call, hang up and call again to get someone else or ask to speak to a supervisor. You can also send a letter in writing explaining your situation, but in general one missed payment should not ruin your credit and it should be pretty easy to get taken off.

If for some reason you lose your job and legitimately cannot pay your bills, you should call your credit card company and work out a payment plan. Always be proactive. If you’re reactive with credit card companies, you’re going to get drowned in fees and bad credit and once your credit dips it can be a long, difficult process to get it back in good standing. As it is, Eddie’s situation worked out because he took action immediately, asked for US Bank’s help and understanding, and ultimately has maintained his healthy credit score.

Maximize your rewards, points and cash back. Get a Personalized Recommendation Now