What Happens When You Don’t Pay Your Credit Card Bill: A Timeline


Everyone knows how important it is to pay your credit card bill on time, but sometimes payments can get missed. It may just be an oversight, or you could find yourself unable to pay due to financial issues.

Whether or not you’ve recently missed a credit card payment, it’s good to know what the consequences can be. The potential repercussions will depend on how late your payment is. Here is a schedule that covers the penalties you can incur after one day, one month, two months and beyond.

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One day

Potential sanctions:

  • Late charge
  • Cancellation of the 0% APR introductory offer

As soon as your credit card payment is late, the card issuer may charge you a late fee. The maximum amount that a credit card company can legally charge for a cardholder’s first late fee is $ 29 as of 2020. For any additional late payments within six billing cycles, the maximum fee amount is $ 40. The late fee amount also cannot exceed the minimum payment amount you missed.

Many credit cards automatically waive your early late fees or charge no late fees. Even if this is not the case with your card, you may be able to ask your card issuer to waive the charge if you call and ask. Card issuers often give cardholders slack the first time around.

If your card has a 0% APR introductory offer, it could be canceled due to a missed payment, although this depends on the card issuer.

Fortunately, your missed payment won’t affect your credit score just because you’re a day or even a week late. It cannot happen for at least 30 days without payment.

30 days

Potential sanctions:

  • Second late fee (total fees possible: $ 69)
  • Decreased credit rating

After 30 days, the credit card company may add additional late fees. Since this is the second late charge in six billing cycles, it can go up to $ 40. And that’s not even the worst. This is also when the credit card account might be reported as 30 days overdue due to the credit bureaus. If this happens, it will lower your credit score.

The amount of decrease in your credit score will depend on your credit history and the quality of your score. If you had a great credit score, it could drop to 110 points.

60 days

Potential sanctions:

  • Third late fee (total fees possible: $ 109)
  • Decreased credit rating
  • APR penalty
  • Cancellation of the 0% APR introductory offer

After another month without paying your credit card bill, you could receive a third late charge. The card issuer may report that your account is 60 days past due with the credit bureaus, further damaging your credit score.

At 60 days past due, this is also when the card issuer can legally impose an APR penalty on your account. A penalty APR is higher than a standard credit card APR and may apply to both your current balance and any future charges. Additionally, if your card has a 0% APR introductory offer that you have been able to keep so far, the card issuer might choose to cancel it.

If you pay on time for six months, the card issuer must revert to the standard APR on your balance, but they may continue to charge you the penalty APR on any future purchases you make. While not all credit card companies do, you’ll need to contact yours to find out how long the penalty APR will last.

90 days

Potential sanctions:

  • Fourth late fee (total fees possible: $ 149)
  • Decreased credit rating
  • Closing the account
  • Amortize

Again, you will receive additional late fees and your credit score will drop further when your card is 90 days late.

This is also when you run the risk that the card issuer will shut down your credit card and debit the balance, which means selling the debt to a collection agency. You will no longer be able to use the credit card, the debt collectors will start contacting you, and you will have another negative score on your credit report. Alternatively, the card issuer can send your account to their own internal collection department to try and collect the debt first.

The date your credit card is closed and charged will depend on the company that issued the credit card. It could happen 90 days, 120 days or later. The last absolute is usually 180 days.

What happens after the card is closed? If you don’t pay off the debt, the collection agency could potentially sue you for what you owe.

Avoid payment problems with your credit card

As you can see, you don’t want to be late with your credit card bill. Even missing a one-day payment can cost you money, which is reason enough to set yourself a reminder or set up automatic payments.

If you missed a payment, the important thing is to catch up as soon as possible. Since the penalties get worse the more your account is overdue, you don’t want to wait.


About Cecil Cobb

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