Check your credit score today

See your credit score in minutes. It’s free, forever.

See your score

What happens if I miss a credit card payment?

If you’ve missed a credit card payment, understanding what happens next is key to making sure the impact is minimal.

21 November 2022Helen Tippell 5 min read
Paying with a credit card
Image by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Check your credit score today

See your credit score in minutes. It’s free, forever.

See your score

If you need debt advice, you can speak to charities like StepChange, National Debtline and Citizens Advice.

Missing a credit card payment happens – with different expenses leaving your account on different days, it’s understandable if it’s difficult to keep on top of. Once you notice you’ve missed a payment, you should:

Contact the lender

Let your lender know that you’ve noticed the missed payment. Contacting their customer service team should give you the opportunity to agree the steps you’ll take to make up the payment.

You can usually find their contact information by scrolling to the bottom of their website and clicking on something like ‘Contact us’.

Make the payment as soon as possible

If you’re able to make the payment, it’s a good idea to do it sooner rather than later. That’s because most credit cards charge interest on any balance that’s carried over and leaving it unpaid could cause the overall amount to increase over time.

Set up a Direct Debit for future payments

Setting up an automatic Direct Debit to cover either the full amount (if you usually use the same amount of money every month), part of the amount or just the minimum payment can give you peace of mind.

Just remember that any balance that’s carried over accrues interest. So, it’s a good idea to check your monthly statements to understand what you owe.

A few things could happen if you miss a credit card payment – whether that’s by one day or longer.

You could face a fee

The first thing to be aware of is the fees you could be charged. Depending on the type of credit card you have and the amount of interest the lender charges, you’ll need to pay the amount you owe plus the interest.

The lender may also charge late fees – information about the charges and fees for your credit card is usually in the documentation you receive when you apply.

If you’re unsure of how much the total amount will be, it’s a good idea to contact your lender.

It could show on your credit report

Generally, it takes about 30 days for a missed payment to show on your credit report. If you manage to make the full payment quickly (and before that 30-day period ends) your lender might not report it to the credit reference agency (like Equifax).

But if you miss the payment for that period – or are only able to pay some of the outstanding balance – it’s likely that it’ll show as a late or missed payment on your report.

You could see a more permanent mark on your report

If the late payment leads to a default or CCJ (County Court Judgement), it can stay on your credit report for six years. That means that if you want credit in the future – a new card, car finance or a loan for example – you might have difficulty being accepted because lenders can see how you’ve managed money in the past.

Your future interest rates might increase

When lenders are deciding to offer you money, the interest rate is often lower if you have a proven track record of responsibly managing repayments. A late payment, or several missed payments, can suggest you’re riskier to lend to. The lenders might choose to counteract this risk by charging you a higher interest rate for your next credit product.

You risk losing a promotional offer

If your credit card came with a promotional offer – something like 0% interest for a period of time – missing a payment could mean losing that offer. Have a look at the agreement terms and see if you’re impacted.

If you miss a credit card payment and it shows on your credit report, you could see a drop in your credit score. Rebuilding your score afterwards means making all further payments on time and in full – but it can take a while to see your credit score rise again.

If your score’s been impacted by a missed or late credit card payment, it’s a good idea to wait for your score to rise again before looking for other types of credit. If you apply for credit (a new credit card, a loan or car finance, for example) you might only be offered rates that reflect your score – so waiting for your score to rise could mean seeing better offers.

A late or missed payment can stay on your report for six years. Your ability to get credit, or to see offers with lower interest rates or higher limits, depends on how often you miss a payment.

That’s because each missed payment has the potential to knock your credit score down. And having a lower score means you may struggle to get additional credit.

Your score can be repaired over time after missing payments, but if you’re frequently finding yourself unable to repay what you borrow on a credit card, it’s a good idea to seek advice from somewhere like Citizen’s Advice or National Debtline.

Late and missed payments, once reported, can stay on your credit report for six years. But, if you think there’s been an error, you can raise a dispute with the credit reference agency (like Equifax).

It’s free to submit a dispute, and you can usually support your claim by sending through documents (like proof of payment). It’s then up to the agency to handle your dispute in line with their policies.

You might be charged a fee on any late or missed payments – information about the charges and fees for your credit card is usually in the documentation you receive when you apply.

If you’re worried about repaying any debt you owe – whether that’s on a credit card or loan – it’s a good idea to seek advice. You can go to charities like National Debtline and StepChange and ask one of their experts for guidance.

Generally, the best way to avoid missing payments is to plan ahead:

Only apply for credit you can afford

Any credit you take out is a form of debt. Understanding the risks associated with missing a debt payment (like the ones above) is key to making sure you don’t take on more than you can afford.

Budget

Knowing how much you’re likely to borrow every month on a credit card (i.e. how much of your credit limit you’ll use), can help you set up a budget. You can check if your expenses will allow you to repay the expected amount every month and plan accordingly.

Set up reminders of when your payments are due

Adding a recurring reminder to your calendar can help you visualise what payments are due. Setting up a coinciding alarm to go off a day or two before can also give you the chance to move money between your accounts ahead of the due date.

Set up direct debits

Setting up an automatic Direct Debit to cover either the full amount (if you usually use the same amount of money every month), part of the amount or just the minimum payment can give you peace of mind.

Create an emergency fund

An emergency savings fund is meant to act as a safety net if you have an unexpected expense. Generally, having at least three months’ expenses (especially the essential payments like a mortgage, car finance payment, phone bill and utilities, for example) is a great starting point.

If you’re able to start putting away some money, an emergency fund could give you some breathing room.

Related topics:


Helen Tippell Image

Written by Helen Tippell

Digital Copywriter

Helen's our resident Digital Copywriter. She makes personal finance easier to understand so you can be ClearScore sure about your choices.