Goodwill Letter: How to Write One and Details You Need to Know

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Updated: 21st Oct 2020
Written by Drew Cheneler
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A goodwill letter is used by consumers to remove a late payment or negative item from their credit report.

Consumers send this letter to creditors to explain their reasoning on why they made a payment late or did not make a payment at all.

As we all know, making a payment late or missing a payment can severely damage your credit score. In fact, one simple slip up could drop your credit score by 50+ points or more.

This credit score drop makes it harder to open a checking account, apply for a credit card, or receive a loan with a competitive interest rate.

Even worse, late payments or collections accounts can remain on your credit report for up to 7-years, so it is best to act quickly and responsibly.

Fortunately, a goodwill letter can help you avoid this devastating financial situation and protect your credit score. Keep reading to find out what a goodwill letter is and how to successfully write one.

What is a Goodwill Letter?

A goodwill letter – also known as a forgiveness letter – is a letter you write to a creditor to ask them to remove a negative item (or mark) from your credit report.

In this letter, you will explicitly state why you made the payment late or cannot make the payment at all. Your goodwill letter needs to be persuasive, establish an emotional connection, and point to a specific reason (or hardship) that caused a financial strain in your life.

For example, did you recently experience an unexpected job layoff? What about a family emergency that dipped into your emergency savings account? Or a recent car accident?

While there are plenty of examples you can lean on, including a ‘hardship’ will bolster your goodwill deletion letters chance of acceptance.

Goodwill Letter vs Filing a Dispute

Let’s address the elephant in the room. A goodwill deletion is not the same thing as filing a formal dispute with the credit bureaus.

In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) do not acknowledge the validity of a goodwill letter. However, this does not mean it is not a legit strategy to employ if you trying to remove a ding on your credit report.

It is important to note that it never hurts to ask. What is the worst thing that can happen? A creditor tells you, no? Since writing a goodwill letter is not recognized by governing bodies, your creditor or lender is not obligated to respond or grant your request.

It is entirely up to them. They are removing the negative item out of their own good heart. This is why writing a goodwill letter is traditionally the last resort for consumers.

We get it. Writing a goodwill letter is intimidating, but this simple trick can save your credit score if done right. If this is a strategy you want to try, then enjoy our step-by-step process on how to write a goodwill letter.

FREE Credit Report

Before you begin to write your goodwill deletion, you need to get a FREE copy of your credit report.

Why?

You need to know the exact name of the negative item on your credit report. This will make it easier for the credit to identify it and successfully remove it.

How to Write a Goodwill Letter (Step-by-Step)

Alright, let’s get right to it. Writing a goodwill letter is not difficult, nor is it time-consuming. First, you need to ask yourself one question: are you a good customer?

What do we mean by this? Do you usually pay your bills on time? Have you been with this creditor for a while? If so, then this information needs to be included in your goodwill letter.

Your creditor will want to retain your business and recognizes all humans are prone to making mistakes.

As we alluded to earlier, you need to personalize your goodwill letter. Make sure to clearly state why you failed to make the payment on time and the reasoning behind this financial mistake.

Again, if you experienced financial hardship, make sure it is noted front and center. However, it needs to be honest and truthful. Your creditor may ask for supporting documentation, such as a pay stub.

Keep your goodwill letter concise and to the point. The last thing a creditor wants to read is a 1,000-word document that is incoherent and shows no sympathy.

You need to take ownership of your mistake and politely ask for forgiveness.

What to Include in Your Goodwill Deletion Letter

Aside from your personal financial hardship, there are a few key elements to include in your goodwill deletion letter. Here is a quick list for you to review:

  • Your Name
  • Mailing Address
  • Account Number
  • Personal Story (if you have one! Do not make one up.)
  • List out your strategy going forward. For example, if you just got laid off, tell the creditor you are going to aggressively apply for a new job.
  • Politely Ask for Goodwill Deletion

While there are several things you can include in your goodwill letter, make sure to include these items we listed above.

This will help organize your letter and keep it concise.

Review our simple goodwill letter below for further insight and assistance.

Sample Goodwill Letter

Read this example goodwill letter to help you format and draft your letter. This does not constitute legal advice. It is merely for educational purposes.

[Today’s Date]

[Your Name]

 

[Your Address]

Financial Account Number: [your account number]

To Whom It May Concern:

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read this letter. I have been a loyal customer of [creditor’s name] since [date you joined] and enjoy the financial services you provide to me each day.

Today, I am writing because I noticed my credit report contains [a negative entry] reported on [date/dates] for my [name of account] account. I fully recognize and accept my financial obligations; however, please let me explain my situation.

[Insert Personalized Financial hardship]

I recognize that I made a mistake. But since then, I have committed to myself that I will never put myself in this negative financial situation again. Here are the steps I have taken to improve my financial well-being.

[Include how your circumstances have changed, or you improved your financial literacy. Remember, keep it concise and to the point.]

Since implementing these strategies, I have not missed a payment, and my record is spotless.

Soon, I plan on applying for a [insert whatever it is. Examples: Mortgage, Credit Card, Personal Loan, refinancing a Loan], and this negative mark is hurting my chances.

While I made this mistake in the past, it does not reflect my current commitment to financial independence and creditworthiness. I promise you this. I will never miss a payment again. With the date and item provided above, I am politely asking for you to make a goodwill adjustment to remove the [negative item] on [date] from my credit report.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter. This would help my family and I out significantly, and your action will not go unappreciated. Please let me know if you have additional questions or want to know more about my situation.

Very Respectfully,

***Signature***

[Your Name]

Where Do I send a Goodwill Deletion Letter?

Once you are done writing your goodwill letter, you need to send it via certified mail or snail mail to your creditor.

Whether it is a debt collection agency or a corporation, locate their mailing address and send it there.

When Should I Write a Goodwill Letter?

You should write a goodwill letter as soon as you notice the negative mark on your credit report.

The quicker you act, the better. Remember, you do not want this item to remain on your credit report for 7-years.

Here are a few examples of when you should consider writing a goodwill letter.

1. Unexpected Job Layoff

Job cuts are not enjoyable for anyone. An unexpected job layoff will cause financial strain, spark uncertainty, and make it difficult to concentrate on anything else besides finding a new job. This makes it easy to let a payment slip through the cracks.

2. Family Emergency

Life loves to throw curveballs at us. Undoubtedly, a family emergency can cause financial strain, especially as you find the best treatment from your loved one.

3. If You Just Switched Mailing Addresses

Did you recently switch jobs or move to a new mailing address? As we all know, moving from one home to another involves a lot of moving parts. And forgetting to update your mailing address is a common mistake most people make.

If you recently moved and forgot to switch mailing address, then clearly state that in your goodwill letter. This is an honest mistake.

4. Payment Transaction Error

While online financial tractions continue to gain traction in our economy, they are far from perfect.

If you are like me and love to automate your monthly payments, get into the habit of routinely checking your financial institution’s website.

Like all internet transactions, they are subject to connectivity and processing issues.

Maybe your transaction did not process due to a tech issue. This is more common than you think and can put consumers at risk.

Do Goodwill Deletion Letters Work?

Goodwill deletions letters do work; however, they are rarely granted. Why? Let’s think about it. Companies do not want to allocate resources

if they are not getting anything in return. First and foremost, they are a business and need to make money.

However, some companies do value their customer experience, so they may be willing to grant you a goodwill adjustment. Especially, if you just prevailed through a financial hardship that flipped your world upside down.

And as we alluded to earlier, it does not hurt to ask. The worst thing they can tell you is no. So, if you exhausted all options, then try writing a goodwill letter.

If you are serious about removing a negative item from your credit report, then seriously consider hiring a credit repair company. Bringing years of experience to the table and proven success, credit repair companies, can successfully remove this ding from your credit report.

Credit Saint is a reputable credit repair firm that has helped thousands of consumers clean up their credit report and fix their credit. Give them a try.

Learn More: Credit Saint Review

What Can a Goodwill Deletion Letter Remove from Your Credit Report?

Goodwill adjustments can remove a handful of damaging items from your credit report. Here is a complete list of what a goodwill deletion can remove:

How Do You Ask for Goodwill Deletion?

The best way to ask for a goodwill deletion is by submitting a goodwill letter. Follow our step-by-step playbook above to craft a personalized goodwill letter.

You can also call your creditor to see if they will even acknowledge your goodwill adjustment request, or if they will just flat out throw it away as soon as they open it.

Most consumers find success by mailing their letter directly to the creditor and not giving them a heads up.

Goodwill Letter Benefits

Goodwill deletion letters give consumers a fighting chance. Even though they are rarely granted, writing a goodwill letter allows you to potentially remove a damaging item from your credit report.

Alternatives to Writing a Goodwill Letter

There are a few alternatives to writing a goodwill letter that we like more. These two ways are proven to work and will help you repair your credit.

1. Professional Removal

If you are dead set on removing an item from your credit report, then the best thing to do is to hire a credit repair company or repair your credit yourself. They bring years of experience and know the credit industry like it is the back of their hand.

From removing late payments to collections, and everything in between, credit repair companies are subject matter experts. They will get the job done quickly and responsibly.

2. Negotiate a Pay for Delete

Another strategy to consider is negotiating a pay-for-delete. As the name suggests, you will pay the creditor an agreed-upon amount in exchange for the removal of the negative item.

This strategy has a higher chance of success; however, there a few things to keep in mind.

If both you and the creditor settle on a pay-for-delete agreement, make sure to get it in writing. Ensure both you and the creditor sign the document.

Signing the document will bolster your case if you have to escalate it further to the legal system or Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Wrapping Up: Write Goodwill Letters

Goodwill letters work best if you have a strong relationship with your creditor. It is also successful if you recently experienced a financial hardship and are looking to improve your credit score.

But remember, goodwill adjustments are rare and decided on a case-by-case basis. There is no ‘true’ way to write a goodwill letter. The best thing to do is to give it your best shot, and if it does not work then hire a credit repair company.

Drew Cheneler
Drew Cheneler
Drew is a recognized Credit, Small Business, and Personal Finance Expert. He has been quoted in CNBC, Fox Business News Section, The Huffington Post, Business.com, Moneyunder30, US Chamber of Commerce, and more. He is known for breaking down complex personal finance topics into action-oriented advice, so you can make the most of your hard-earned money.