Paying your bills can have the biggest impact on your credit score, so if you miss a payment or make a late payment, you can find that you are negatively affected. Even if you have a good credit score, a late payment can cause this to drop significantly. We’ve put together this guide on late payments and their effect on credit scores to help you understand this impact and what you can do to avoid late payments.
First things first, it’s important to understand the difference between late and missed payments:
- Late payment - when you make a payment after its due date, usually 30 days late or more
- Missed payment - when you miss a bill payment altogether
Both of these can have a negative impact on your credit score.
What is a late credit card payment?
When it comes to a credit card, a late payment usually means a payment made 30 days late or more. Payments which are still late but paid before the 30-day limit should still be avoided as they can mean that you need to pay a late payment fee. The rules around late payments can differ so you should make sure you’re aware of the specific terms of your credit card.
Occasionally it can be unavoidable to miss a payment or to pay late. This could be because of other bills or emergency payments which are unexpected, like fixing your car or a replacement boiler.
How to avoid late payments on credit cards
You can try to put in place some tactics to help you avoid making late payments:
- Use the Vanquis App to set up regular payments to your credit card.
- Keep on top of your payment due dates – use an online calendar to track your payments and set up alerts when they are due.
- If possible, work out whether it’s best to either stagger your payments to spread them out or make sure everything comes out close together.
- Use automatic payments like standing orders or direct debits to ensure payments are made even if you forget.
Impact of late payments on credit scores
The impact of a late payment on a credit score will vary from person to person and is dependent on a few different factors. Your payment history does have an impact and how many late payments you’ve made on any credit cards, loans or mortgages will have a negative impact. How much may depend on a lenders individual rules around lending.
If you consistently make late payments or you aren’t able to pay for a significant period of time (for example, longer than 30 days) this can mean that lenders feel you aren’t able to manage your credit agreements and the payments. If you have late payments on more than one agreement this can also affect your score negatively.
How long does a late payment stay on your credit score?
Late payments are usually kept on your credit report for six years. The impact of a late payment will reduce over time so any recent late or missed payments will have more of an effect than any older missed payments. This is because most lenders will refer to your recent credit history when deciding whether or not to lend to you.
If you are able to maintain a good payment record and make sure you make all future payments on time, the impact of one late or missed payment will reduce. If you’re not sure what is impacting your credit score, it’s a good idea to obtain an up to date record from a credit reference agency.
If there any mistakes on your credit report or you have good reason for a missed payment (such as long-term illness or unemployment) you can ask the credit reference agency to correct your report.
Tips to maintain a good credit score with timely repayments
Follow these simple tips to help maintain a good credit score:
- Check our tactics on how to avoid late payments as a good first step.
- Only apply for credit you need and make sure you can afford the repayments
- If you can, set aside some money for unexpected payments or emergencies. This will reduce the risk of you missing payments for any credit agreements.
- Get a copy of your credit report and correct any mistakes or incorrect information.