How Late Can You Be On Payments?

Written by Christina Miller

Have you ever come across a bill past its due date? Or catch yourself trying to remember if you submitted a payment? It is frustrating and you may become stressed thinking about late fees, interests, and taking a hit on your credit score. But before you spiral, remember it likely should not be a big problem, especially if you are a reliable customer and have not missed a payment in the past. Note that by federal law, late payments cannot be reported to credit bureaus until it is at least 30 days past due. But to avoid late penalties you can set up automatic payments or set a recurring reminder on your calendar. 

In the meantime, here are things to know about how late you can be on payments. 

Credit Cards

One monthly payment we all likely have is for our credit card. A credit card payment is considered late when it is received after the cutoff time on your agreement or when the amount paid is less than the minimum amount due. Remember, one late payment among years of on-time payments is less likely to affect your credit history and your bank is likely to forgive the fees once. If you have missed multiple payments or missed a payment by over 30 days, it can be added to your credit report. The same entry will be updated on your report if your payment is 60 or even 90 days late. So pay your late credit card bill, the minimum payment is plenty, as soon as you can before 30 days to save on fees and save your credit score for recurring damage. 

Auto Loans

Auto loan payment terms and conditions vary depending on the lenders, so it is important to check with the lenders what grace period is part of your agreement. Many lenders have a ten day grace period but check the details from your specific lender. It is also good to know your balance, your interest rate,  and the fees associated for late or missed payments. Once you notice that you have missed a payment, pay it as soon as possible. If you find that you cannot afford a payment you need to get in touch with your lender right away to renegotiate the terms. If it is one month you are having difficulty with, they may allow you to defer your car payment as long as you expect to have the funds to continue paying the following month. If you are having difficulties paying multiple months you may need to consider refinancing your loan. 

Rent or Mortgage

Like auto loans, mortgage payments and rent terms depend on the lender. Various lenders have a grace period of seven days to pay your late bill. Late rent payments also depend on if you are paying a landlord or a property management company. If you know your landlord and have a good rapport, chances are by paying your late rent as soon as possible, he/she will let it slide. You can also be upfront and apologize, ensuring it was a slip up. If you have submitted many late payments, he/she may not be as forgiving. Same goes for a property management company - they likely will not be lenient on late payments. When it comes to mortgage payments, unlike credit card and auto lenders, mortgage lenders are quicker to report late payments to credit bureaus, so do your best to pay your housing bills on time.

It can be hard to keep track of everything but finding the best way to manage your personal finances can be easy. Take the time to prevent late payments and in the end you can save yourself money and stress on late or overdue fees. Look into going paperless - which will likely lead to your bills being emailed instead of risking them getting lost in the mail. Set up reminders - some lenders have the option to opt into text and email reminders that tell you how much you owe and when it is due by. You can also set up recurring reminders on your calendar or phone. Lastly, you can enroll in automatic payments - have the funds sent monthly without even batting an eye, just make sure you have the funds in the account it will be taken from.

Remember life happens. Financial priorities may fluctuate and slip your mind. Regardless of which payment you are late on, pay it as soon as you notice it is late. The sooner you submit a payment, the sooner your credit is cleared and you will save on incurring late fees and interest. 


Written by Christina Miller