What if Credit Card Payments are Missed?
What Happens When You Miss Credit Card Payments?
If you have a credit card, it's important to use it responsibly. That means paying your bills on time and in full each month, if possible. However, life can be unpredictable, and you may find yourself unable to make a payment on your credit card. What are the consequences of missing a credit card payment? Here are some things to know.
Interest and Fees
The first thing that happens when you miss a credit card payment is that you will likely incur interest charges and fees. Most credit cards have a grace period of about 21 days between the end of a billing cycle and the due date for the minimum payment. If you don't pay the minimum payment by the due date, you may be charged a late fee, which can be up to $39 for the first offense. You may also lose your grace period and start accruing interest on your balance, which can be as high as 25% APR or more. This means that your debt will grow faster and become harder to pay off.
Credit Score Damage
The second thing that happens when you miss a credit card payment is that your credit score may be damaged. Your payment history is a major factor in calculating your credit score, which is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness. If you miss a payment, it will likely be reported to the credit bureaus and stay on your credit report for up to seven years. This can lower your credit score by several points or more, depending on how late the payment is and how much you owe. A lower credit score can make it harder to get approved for credit in the future and may result in higher interest rates and fees.
Collection Calls and Legal Action
The third thing that can happen when you miss a credit card payment is that you may start receivingcollection callsand letters from the credit card company or a debt collector. This can be stressful and annoying, especially if you can't afford to pay the debt right away. However, you should not ignore these communications, as they may lead tolegal actionif you don't respond or make arrangements to pay. The credit card company may sue you in court to collect the debt, which can result in a judgment against you and wage garnishment, bank account seizure, or property liens.
How to Avoid Missing Credit Card Payments
Now that you know the risks of missing credit card payments, how can you avoid them? Here are some tips:
- Set up autopay for your credit card bills, so that the minimum payment is automatically deducted from your bank account on the due date.
- Use calendar reminders or alerts to remind you of upcoming credit card payments, so that you don't forget them.
- Keep your credit card balance low, so that you can afford to pay it off in full each month and avoid interest charges.
- Prioritize your credit card payments over other expenses, such as entertainment, fashion, or dining out, if you are struggling to make ends meet.
- Contact your credit card company as soon as possible if you anticipate missing a payment, and ask if they can waive the late fee or extend the due date.
Credit cards can be useful tools for building credit, earning rewards, and making purchases. However, they also come with risks if you don't manage them properly. Missing a credit card payment can lead to interest charges, fees,credit score damage, collection calls, and legal action. To avoid these consequences, it's important to pay your bills on time and in full, or at least make the minimum payment if you can't afford more. If you need help managing your credit card debt, consider seeking advice from a financial counselor or debt management program.