How Late Can You Pay Your Bills Before It Affects Your Credit Report?
I think I know where this question comes from. It comes from people who are late paying their bills and want to know just how long they can go before their delinquency is reported to the credit bureaus for all to see. The good news for this is that many of their late payments will never end up on their credit reports and won’t have any negative impact to their FICO credit scores.
First off, not all lenders or service providers report to the credit reporting agencies. For example, your electricity, your gas, your water, your cellular service and your cable and internet service…none of them report to the credit bureaus on a consistent basis. In fact, many of them don’t report to the credit bureaus at all…ever. The only way you’ll see derogatory payment history to the above mentioned is if you default and they have to enlist the services of a collection agency. Then the collection agency will report to collection, but that’s a little different.
But what about the real creditors with whom you have relationships? The credit card issuers, the mortgage lenders, the auto lenders, the personal loan lenders and the student loan lenders. Surely they’ll report you as being late the minute you fall past due. Nope, not even close. The credit reporting industry has guidelines that define when you can report a debtor as being delinquent. And “1 day past due” isn’t the standard.
You’ve actually got a full 30 days AFTER the due date of your bill before the lender can report you as being late to the credit bureaus. That means if your payment is due on the 15th and you pay it on the 20th the late payment cannot be reported to the credit bureaus. Oh sure, you’re technically late and you’ll likely get hit with a late fee and maybe a nasty letter. But, it won’t show up on your credit reports.
When you see a 30 day delinquency on a credit report it actually means you’re 30-59 days delinquent on the account. And, when you hit 60 days past due it’ll likely be updated accordingly.
Are late payments negatively affecting your credit? Visit here to see your updated credit report and credit score online now.
Credit Reporting Expert, John Ulzheimer, is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. Follow him on Twitter here.