How to Remove a Late Payment From Your Credit Report

Written by Kim PinnelliUpdated: 28th Sep 2021
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In this Article: Find out how to remove a late payment from your credit report.

Late payments make it hard to get credit moving forward. They hurt your credit score (sometimes a lot) and make future lenders wary about lending you money.

Keep reading to find out how to remove a late payment from your credit report and rebuild your credit moving forward.

How Long do Late Payments Stay on Your Credit Report?

Late payments stay on your credit report for 7 years. That’s a long time to pay for a mistake, right?

Fortunately, they don’t hurt your credit score the entire time, or at least with as much weight as they do when they are ‘fresh.’

Future lenders will see the late payment for the entire 7 years, but most only count the last 2 years of your credit history.

They may, however, take it into account if you have other ‘risky’ factors that affect your eligibility, so knowing how to remove late payments from your credit report is beneficial.

Credit repair companies, like Credit Saint, remove late payments from credit reports every day. They are the best of the best when it comes to removing late payments.

Can I Remove Late Payments from My Credit Report?

You can remove late payments from your credit report, but it’s tricky. There’s no 100% foolproof way – it’s a bit of trial and error, but it can be done.

How to Remove a Late Payment from Your Credit Report (5 Proven Ways)

1. Request a “Goodwill Adjustment”

Are you usually a ‘good customer’? Do you pay your bills on time and don’t make credit mistakes?

You may request a ‘goodwill adjustment.’ In other words, you ask the creditor to remove the late payment because of your positive history. They aren’t obligated to do so, but if you’re a good customer, chances are they don’t want to lose you.

If the following apply, you may ask for a goodwill adjustment:

  • You experienced a sudden illness or disaster and could not pay your bills temporarily
  • It was an honest mistake or oversight
  • You have a great payment history otherwise

2. Negotiate with a Pay for Delete Letter

If your debt already went to a collection agency, you may request a pay for delete. This is an arrangement with the collection agency. They agree to delete the collection from your credit report in exchange for payment.

You may arrange to make the payment in full, but if you cannot, a partial payment may also be accepted. Negotiate with the collection agency based on what you can afford.

Whether you set up a payment arrangement, pay less than the full amount, but it’s been agreed upon, or the total amount, get the agreement in writing.

Don’t accept a verbal agreement. Once you pay, there’s no reason for the collection agency to hold up their end of the bargain unless it’s in writing.

3. Request Debt Validation

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) gives you the right to validate the debt. This works with collection agencies and works best within the first 30 days of receiving notice of the collection.

Here’s how it works:

  • Send the request in writing. This is known as submitting a debt validation letter. Ask for all pertinent details including the name of the creditor, a copy of the statement or agreement, the date the debt originated, and the outstanding balance.
  • If the creditor only responds with the amount you owe but doesn’t provide proof, write to the credit bureau to request deletion due to the inability to prove the debt.

If the creditor validates the debt, use one of the steps above to take care of it – either negotiate a pay for delete or a goodwill adjustment.

4. File a Credit Dispute

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you the right to dispute any inaccurate credit reporting information. Even misspelling your name counts as inaccurate.

Go over your credit report with a fine-toothed comb and look for errors in any of the following areas:

  • Wrong dates (either account opening or date of the late payment or date payments were made)
  • Incorrect balance amounts
  • Incorrectly reporting payments late that you made on time
  • Duplicate accounts
  • Late payments that are outside of the statute of limitations (7 years)

You must file the dispute in writing (online is the easiest) and provide proof of the error. The credit bureaus have 30 days to respond.

5. Hire a Credit Repair Company

If any or all of these steps overwhelm you, consider hiring one of the best credit repair companies.

Not only do they take the burden off you, but they also have many other tricks up their sleeves to remove the late payment from your credit report.

A reputable company will use every angle possible to get the negative information removed from your credit report. Make sure you do your homework and find a reputable company with a proven track record, though.

Our personal favorite is Credit Saint. They have removed thousands of late payments from credit reports. This is their bread and butter.

>> More: Credit Saint Review

When are Late Payments Reported?

Late payments are ‘true late payments’ on your credit report until they are more than 30 days late. If you miss your credit card due date, for example, but pay it 15 days late, it won’t report.

You’ll pay late fees, and interest will accrue, but your credit report won’t show it.

If you paid 31 days late, though, your credit report would show it. They report late payments in 30-day increments – 30, 60, 90, and 120-day late.

Beyond 120 days, most creditors charge the account off and send it to a collection agency.

What if My Late Payment is a MISTAKE?

According to the FTC, 1 in 5 consumers has a mistake on their credit report. It’s essential to check your credit reports at least once a year.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives each consumer free access to each credit report annually (right now, you can get your free reports weekly until April 2021).

If you notice a late payment that you know you paid, get proof. Pull your bank or credit card statements to prove the payment date.

If you saved the payment confirmation notice, pull that out too. Send one or both documents to the credit bureau with a dispute in writing.

They have 30 days to respond, and if your documents prove the timely payments, they must change it.

How Late Payments Affect Your Credit Score

Payment history makes up the largest percentage of your credit score. Even one late payment can hurt your score as much as 100 points.

Not every consumer’s credit score will drop that drastically, but if you have good credit, it will. For example, two consumers paid a bill 30 days late.

Consumer A has a 720-credit score, and Consumer B has a 600 credit score.

Consumer A’s score will likely drop a lot more than Consumer B’s because Consumer B’s credit score was already low.

Will Paying Off my Debt Remove the Late Payment from my Credit Report?

Paying the debt off doesn’t remove it from your credit report, but it does help your credit score. Plus, it helps your reputation when you apply for new credit.

Despite the late payment reporting, if lenders see you made good on your debt, it won’t affect their decision as much. If you left the debt unpaid, it would be worse.

If you want the debt completely removed, you must negotiate a pay for delete or a goodwill adjustment (deletion). But this is hard. Do what most people do and hire a credit repair company.

Rebuild Your Credit

If you’ve tried everything and the late payment remains, focus on rebuilding your credit. Here are a few quick and easy ways:

  • Make your payments on time moving forward. Figure out how to ensure you don’t miss, whether you set up automatic payments, set an alert on your calendar, or set up automatic bill pay through your bank.
  • Keep your credit balances down. Don’t charge more than 30% of your total credit line. High utilization rates hurt your credit score.
  • Don’t close old accounts. This lowers your length of credit history (age) and decreases your credit score.

These credit hacks are the best for improving your credit score.

Why Late Payments Matter

Your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. It’s the largest portion of your credit score, so even one late payment hurts it significantly.

Late payments are measured in 30-day increments. One 30-day late payment will hurt but is better than three or four 30-day late payments, just as a few 30-day late payments are better than a 90-day late payment.

Obviously, it’s best to avoid late payments. But, unfortunately, some of us cannot.

Bottom Line: How to Remove a Late Payment from Your Credit Report

Late payments affect your credit score and ability to secure lending, moving forward quite a bit. Do what you can to avoid making them at all.

If you slip up or can’t avoid it, you have plenty of tools at your disposal to correct the issue either on your own or with the help of a credit repair company.

Our favorite is to hire a credit repair company, like Credit Saint.

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Kim Pinnelli
Kim Pinnelli

Kim Pinnelli is a Senior Writer, Editor, & Product Analyst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has been a professional financial writer for over 15 years, and has appeared in a myriad of industry leading financial media outlets. Leveraging her personal experience, Kim is committed to helping people take charge of their personal finances and make simple financial decisions.