How Much Does One Late Payment Affect Credit Scores?

If you’re serious about your credit score, you need to pay your bills on time. One late payment can have a devastating effect on your credit score. Here’s what you need to know about late payments and your credit score, and what you can do to protect yourself.

How Late Payments Affect Credit Scores

Your payment history is the biggest factor in determining your credit score, so it’s imperative that you pay your bills on time whenever possible. If you do make a late payment, there are three factors that determine how much it will affect your credit score.

  1. Your credit score and credit history
  2. How long ago the late payment was
  3. How severe the late payment was

According to FICO’s credit damage data, one recent late payment can cause as much as a 180-point drop on a FICO score, depending on your credit history and the severity of the late payment.

Your Credit History and Late Payments

The impact of a missed payment on your credit score varies significantly depending on your circumstances. The better your credit, the more you may feel the sting of a late payment. In fact, that 180-point drop mentioned earlier is most likely to happen to an individual with excellent credit who is 90 days late on a payment. Because individuals with good and excellent credit don’t have a history of risky behavior, one mistake sends up a red flag that can drop their score more dramatically.

Individuals with a shorter credit history will likely see a dramatic decrease in their score after a late payment as well. Because there is less information available on your financial behavior, a late payment is a bad sign. On the other hand, individuals with lower credit scores already have a history of risky behavior, so one more late payment won’t drop their score as much.

How Time Affects Credit

The more recent a late payment is, the more severely it will affect your credit score. A missed payment remains on your credit report for up to seven years from the date it occurred. The overall impact of the late payment diminishes over time and goes away completely when the missed payment ages off your report.

    Get everything you need to master your credit today.
    Get started for free

    Your score won’t necessarily jump 100 points simply because a late payment ages off or is removed. Even though a late payment might have originally dropped your score by a good number, the impact of that late payment changes over time. How much your score goes up when a late payment is removed depends on a variety of factors, so you’ll want to continue practicing smart financial habits like making payments on time and keeping your credit utilization low.

    How Severity Affects Credit

    If you missed your credit card payment by one day, you probably don’t need to sweat it. In most cases, lenders and creditors have grace periods that can range from a few days to up to 10 days. Grace periods are meant to account for minor mistakes and lag in mailing or posting payments. If your payment arrives within that time period, the lender may not count it as late.

    Most lenders don’t report missed payments until your account is 30 days past due. After 90 days, the effect on your credit score will be even more drastic.

    Make sure to read the fine print on your account agreement, though, to know if you have a grace period. And avoid falling into the habit of relying on the grace period. If you’re used to paying your bill five days after the actual due date, you could miss the grace period if you experience a personal emergency. Also keep in mind that interest and fees may still apply during the grace period, even if your payment isn’t reported as late to the credit bureaus.

    Features of ExtraCredit

    How to Protect Your Credit History Against Late Payment Impact

    Payment history is a huge part of your credit score. It accounts for around 35% of your score—over a third. Take action to ensure late payments aren’t impacting your score when they don’t need to. Here are three tips for doing so.

    1. Check Your Credit Score and Report Regularly

    Check your credit reports frequently to ensure late payments aren’t being reported inaccurately. A simple clerical error is enough to cause your score to go down. If you see inaccurate information on your credit reports, you can and should challenge it and ask for verification.

    You can get a free credit report annually from each of the three credit bureaus. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, you can get your free credit report once a week through April 2021. When you request your credit report from or the individual credit bureaus, you won’t also see your credit score. If you want to see both at the same time, consider signing up for ExtraCredit. You’ll see 28 of your FICO scores from all three credit bureaus, plus your credit reports from each.

    2. Use Tools to Help You Make Timely Payments

    Avoid late payments by using resources that ensure you make payments on time each month.

    • Sign up for auto payments. Your lender may offer this option, letting you enter a credit or debit card or checking account and taking payments out of that account each month. The benefit is that you can set and forget your payments, never worrying that they’re late. The disadvantage is that you have less flexibility in when you pay each month, and you have to ensure you keep a balance in your account to cover the charges.
    • Use apps or phone alarms. Remind yourself to make payments with app notifications that let you know the payment date is arriving soon. Many credit card companies and other lenders offer options for receiving such notifications directly from them.
    • Make smaller, more frequent payments. If you’re struggling to save enough to cover a large bill each month, pay a portion of what’s owed every week. This can help simplify your budget, though you do need to ensure you’re not being charged convenience fees or other amounts every time you make a payment.

    3. Ask for One-Time Late Payments to Be Forgiven

    Life happens, and creditors are aware of this. So if you do find yourself making a one-off late payment, contact your creditor.

    Apologize for the late payment, let them know it’s not a normal occurrence for you and point to your previously pristine payment history. Ask the creditor to waive late fees and interest charges as a courtesy and not report the late payment to the credit bureaus. It’s a tool you must use sparingly, but creditors may to oblige if you really do normally pay on time.

    Your Credit Score Will Thank You

    Making all your bill payments on time is one of the best ways to keep your credit score happy and healthy. Keep track of how you’re doing by signing up for ExtraCredit.

      Get everything you need to master your credit today.
      Get started for free receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them. Compensation is not a factor in the substantive evaluation of any product.

      Hello, Reader!

      Thanks for checking out We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

      Our People

      The editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline,, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

      Our Reporting

      We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

      The editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

      In addition to appearing on, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

      Our Business Model’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

      Visitors to are also able to register for a free account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

      Your Stories

      Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      - The Editorial Team