What Happens if I Miss One Loan Payment?
It’s not an uncommon scenario: You sit down to pay your monthly or bimonthly bills and realize you forgot to make last month’s credit card, car, or mortgage payment. Maybe it wasn’t an oversight but a conscious decision during a particularly tight month of figuring out which loan payment you would have to skip until you got caught up financially.
Whatever the reason for the missed payment, now you’re left wondering what impact it will have on your credit. The answer depends on several circumstances, first and foremost being how late the payment is made.
Most lenders won’t report a late payment to the credit bureaus until it has gone 30 days past due. That isn’t to say you won’t be charged a late fee, but your credit rating should not suffer as a result.
Once you go past the 30-day mark, however you can be sure the late payment will negatively impact your credit score. That’s because payment history is one of the main criteria lenders use to determine creditworthiness.
It’s also important to understand that the longer a payment remains delinquent, the more damage will be done to your credit report. Missing a payment entirely with the idea that you’ll just start up again next month is where many people go wrong. When a payment on a loan is missed, the next payment received will be applied to the oldest amount due.
So if you think you can skip one month’s car payment and start up again the next month with the idea that you’ll make the missed payment when you’re in better financial shape, think again. Until you make up the missed payment you will constantly be one payment (or one month) behind on your loan.
What does that mean for your credit report? It means you will have a late payment hit your credit report not one month, but every single month until the account is brought current.
So, assuming you’re making one late payment and will not get perpetually behind, what are your options?
Your best bet is to call the lender and request that they forgive the one late payment. If you have a good history or timely payments with the lender, there is a fairly good chance they will overlook a single late payment.
It’s important to remember, however, that, even if the late payment doesn’t hit your credit report, you may still suffer one of the following negative consequences:
- Being charged a late fee. Late fees vary but many can be as high as $100 on debts such as mortgage loans.
- Your interest rate could rise. Many lenders penalize late payments with higher rates, or default rates. On some credit cards, those with promotional interest rates for example, the default APR for making just a single late payment can be as high as 29.99 percent.
But there are also other cautions when it comes to making a late payment. This is particularly true with debts where loans are frequently sold — think mortgages, car loans, and student loans.
In these cases, a loan may have been sold off to one, or several companies, since your last payment. That means that one late payment can have more far-reaching effects. Not only can one late payment be reported to your credit, but a late payment may be reported for all of the various lenders that now own your loan.
How long will a late payment remain on my credit report?
In the worst-case scenario, late payments can stay on your credit report for up to seven years before falling off. That, of course means they can impact your credit for that long too.
The only way to be certain of the impact a late payment may be having on your credit score is to request the free credit report to which you are entitled annually from each of the three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
If you want to know more about how long late payments can stay on your credit report, or how long it takes to repair your credit report, it’s important to contact a trusted expert in credit repair.