There are three reasons that you might have missed a payment on your credit card: either you can’t afford to pay, the payment didn’t get there in time or you just plain forgot. I sympathize: paying credit card bills is a surprisingly difficult thing to do reliably and consistently. Sooner or later, something is bound to go wrong.
Whatever happened, though, there’s one thing you need to do, and quickly – get on the phone.
Phone and Grovel
Apologize like you’ve never apologiszd before. Don’t panic, stay calm, but make it clear to whoever you get through to that you’re very sorry, and things like this never happen to you. If you just forgot, then tell the truth about what happened – and if you can’t afford to pay, then you should say that too.
You will be surprised at how lenient credit card companies usually are if you phone and apologize – after all, the sensible ones want to keep you paying interest to them for a long time to come, so it’s not really in their interest to punish you.
Remember to be very grateful when they let you off, and tell them it won’t happen again. Whatever you do, don’t get angry or frustrated. It’s you that’s in the wrong here!
You have to think and act like you’re a model customer, and be willing to transfer your balance elsewhere as a punishment for them if they won’t let you off this one mistake. Transferring your entire balance to another card will make them sit up, take notice, and start making you much better offers than you ever got before.
Try to Keep It Off Your Credit Report
You need to do everything you can to persuade them not to add your late payment to your credit report, at least if you want to apply for any credit in the next few years. Remember that any late payment could be a black mark against your name for as long as ten years.
On the other hand, if the worst happens and it does get onto your credit report, don’t worry about it too much. As long as there’s only one late payment, it doesn’t matter too much, especially once a year or so has gone by. It’s the people who consistently pay late who get the truly terrible credit ratings.
In the Future, Always Post Early
This goes especially for the people whose payments didn’t make it in time, but it’s good advice anyway – it saves you trying to find money at the last minute. It is a bad idea to wait until the day before the deadline to make your credit card payment, as there are just too many things that can go wrong.
Also, it’s generally a bad idea to let bills of any kind stack up until you get around to them, because bills aren’t fun, and you just won’t. Pay your bills on the day you get them, and you’ll live a much less stressful life.