Here's What Happened When I Accidentally Missed a Credit Card Payment

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on March 28, 2021

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Stressed woman on the phone

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A late credit card payment could have been financially damaging, but I was able to find a fix.

Missing a credit card payment is bad news. It can lead to late fees, and sometimes trigger a penalty APR. You could also find yourself with a black mark on your credit report if the creditor reports the account as 30, 60, or 90 days late.

Because of the serious consequences, missed credit card payments should be avoided whenever possible. Unfortunately, sometimes things happen. You may not have the money to pay your card until after the deadline. Or, as happened to me, you may make a mistake that leads to a missed payment.

See, before I set up autopay on my credit cards, there was a time when I entirely missed one. This occurred because my husband thought I had paid the bill online, while I was under the impression he'd mailed in a check.

Neither of us checked with the other because it was a busy time, and we didn't realize we'd made this mistake until we got our next statement and saw late charges, interest charges, and a bigger-than-expected balance.

Here's what happened when we missed a credit card payment

As soon as we realized what had happened, I got on the phone with my credit card company. I explained the missed payment had been an inadvertent result of a marital miscommunication. And I asked the customer service representative if there was anything they could do to help me out with the fees and interest charges. I also told them I was willing to immediately make a payment over the phone, both for the prior month's charges and for the new month's bill.

Because we have always paid on time and been good customers, the customer service agent was very helpful. She processed my payment, waived all of the added costs, and assured me that the credit card company would report my payment as current so my credit score wouldn't be damaged.

I got her name just to make sure that this would actually be done. Then, I checked my credit card statement and report daily until I saw the payment was posted, the fees were waived, and the account was reported as paid. Thankfully, all of that happened quickly and there was no long-term damage.

This worked for us because we're normally very good about paying our bills on time. If you have a history of not making payments on schedule, it's unlikely creditors would be willing to extend you the same courtesy my card company offered. Developing a business relationship that leads creditors to help you is one of the many reasons to try to use your card responsibly and avoid missed or late payments.

If you do have a positive payment history, this also goes to show why it's important to act quickly when you make a mistake. Don't assume you have to accept the negative consequence of a late payment without asking your creditors what they can do for you.

Finally, the whole experience demonstrated to me why it's so important to have autopay set up and to make sure to check online accounts regularly. I won't miss payments again since I've set them up to pay automatically. And I should have caught the mistake sooner and acted to correct it quickly before risking my payment being reported as 30 days late. I won't make that mistake again either -- and you can learn from my error and hopefully avoid making it in the first place.

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