What Happens to Your Credit Score if You Pay Your Mortgage Late?

by Maurie Backman | Published on Nov. 7, 2021

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Being late with a mortgage payment could have negative consequences.

Key points

  • A late mortgage payment could cause substantial credit score damage.
  • The higher your credit score is, the more a late payment might hurt you.

There are different reasons why you might be late paying your mortgage. First, there's good old forgetfulness. If you don't have your mortgage set to autopay, you might simply forget to make the online transfer or write out that check.

Financial issues might also prevent you from paying your mortgage on time. If you recently lost your job, saw your income decline, or got hit with a string of emergency expenses, it could be that you've run out of money to pay your mortgage.

Unfortunately, even a single late mortgage payment could have a negative impact on your credit score, so it's best to avoid having a late payment reported on your record.

The credit score impact of one late mortgage payment

Generally, paying your mortgage a few days late won't impact your credit score. Mortgages frequently have a grace period that varies by loan. For some home loans, it's 15 days, though your grace period may be shorter.

Either way, if you make your mortgage payment a few days after its due date, there shouldn't be negative consequences. It's when you're 30 days or more late on a mortgage payment that credit score damage can ensue. How much damage are we talking about? It depends on different factors.

One thing that may surprise you is that the higher your score is, the more of an impact a single late payment will have. In fact, FICO reports that one late payment could cause a drop of up to 110 points on a credit score of 780, which is considered an excellent score. Meanwhile, a credit score of 680, which is considered good, may only drop up to 80 points for the same offense.

The key takeaway, though, is that being considerably late even once with your mortgage payment could severely hurt your credit score.

How to avoid late mortgage payments

The best way to avoid being late with a mortgage payment due to forgetfulness is to automate the process. You can generally arrange to have your mortgage payment debited from your bank account every month. If you want to write out a check yourself, set up a calendar reminder.

If financial issues are preventing you from paying your mortgage on time, talk to your lender rather than just ignore your payment's due date. If you're going through a temporary hardship, your loan servicer might agree to let you pay your loan late one month, or accept a partial payment. In that case, your late payment won't be reported to the credit bureaus, and your credit score won't take a hit.

If you need to pause your mortgage payments for an extended period of time due to a financial hardship, you can ask your loan servicer to put your mortgage into forbearance. That could buy you many months of not having to pay your mortgage. Keep in mind that your payments won't be forgiven during forbearance -- just put off until a later date. But that way, you can avoid the hit to your credit score that comes with being late on a payment, or several payments.

Being late with any debt payment could hurt your credit score a lot. Do what you can to avoid being late with a mortgage payment so your credit score stays healthy and you don't suffer negative consequences.

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