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A late payment will affect your credit score for at least 12 to 18 months, although a record of the late payment may stay on your credit report for 7 years from the date your delinquency is first reported to the credit bureaus. Creditors can begin reporting a payment as late to the bureaus once it becomes 30 days past-due.
The exact credit-score impact of late payments ultimately depends on how far past-due you are/were and whether your late payments lead to any other negative events, such as bankruptcy. You can use WalletHub’s credit score simulator to see how missing one or multiple payments would affect your credit score. In doing so, take note that as you get further behind with your payments, your credit score will continue to drop.
In order to minimize the effect of a late payment on your credit score and recover as quickly as possible, you should catch up on any past-due balance and then prioritize making payments on time moving forward. One of the best ways to do this is to set your accounts up for auto pay; this ensures that your payments are never late, as long as you have enough money in the account you’re drawing the funds from.
You can read our guides on tips for never missing a due date and improving your credit score for more helpful advice.
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A pattern of lates affect your credit score for 7 years even if they are paid off and/or current for 4 or 5 years since. The effect does not diminish 12 to 18 months after. You will need to use the system available (dispute) and get them off your record or wait the 7 years in order to gain a healthy credit score.