Late on Credit Card Payments? Here’s What to Expect

A strong credit history can open many financial doors, but blemishes to your credit report could limit your financial options.

4 min read

One of the most important lessons for anyone who’s starting their financial journey is to learn how to use credit responsibly. Having a strong credit history can open many financial doors, but on the flip side, blemishes to your credit report might not only limit your financial options, but they may take a long time to undo.

A big factor behind your creditworthiness is whether or not you have made any late payments — and there are lasting consequences to using credit that you cannot pay back. At N26, we aim to help you make smart financial decisions, and so we hope to impart the importance of paying credit on-time so you can have a solid financial future.

What happens if I’m late on my payments?

There are many reasons why someone may be late in paying their credit card bills, especially during this tough economic climate wrought by the global pandemic. However, if late payments become a habit, you might have to deal with three significant consequences. 

1. Impact on your credit score 

One of the biggest results of being consistently late on your payments is the negative impact on your credit score. Blemishes like consistently late payments will stay on your credit report for up to seven years. While the impact decreases as you get closer to the end of that period, the best thing for your financial future is to avoid late payments altogether.

Check out our articles on how to build a good credit score quickly, and also how to rebuild your credit score.

2. Fees, fees, fees

The impact to your credit score might be significant, but it can be easy to overlook since you might not feel it right away. What will have the most immediate impact when you make late payments are the fees.

To discourage late payments, lenders charge late fees, and make those fees just painful enough to serve as a deterrent. If you’re late more than once, you may also expect those fees to increase. The financial burden of late fees is increased even further because they’re often rolled into the remaining balance that’s owed, which means you’ll also end up having to pay interest on those late charges.

3. Mental and physical toll

During this pandemic, we already struggle with maintaining mental and emotional health.The last thing we need to add to our psychological plate is being overdue on our finances. Mental stress may cause you to make poor decisions, and anxiety could lead to problem avoidance, desperation, loss of self-esteem, feeling out of control, and even physical ailments.

How do I avoid late payments in the future?

Now that we’ve covered why you want to avoid late payments, we’ll give some practical tips on how to actually avoid being late.

Negotiate with your lender

If you’re going to be late on your bill, send your lender a message. If you have a good history with the company and it’s your first time being late, they might waive the late fee and even remove the negative mark from your credit report. Many lenders currently have pandemic-related policies to help their customers, so if you’re suffering hardship because of COVID-19, see what arrangements are available.

Set up automatic payments

A surefire way to avoid late payments is to set up automatic payments that draw from your checking account to pay your bills when they’re due. Set it up once, make sure the checking account has sufficient funds, and you’ll never have to worry.

Debit, not credit

If you find that you’re struggling to make payments on-time, you might want to switch to using a debit card with no hidden fees. With a debit card, it is much tougher to spend more than you can afford. The N26 debit card is accepted worldwide, and it comes with Perks that give you cashback¹ and exclusive discounts.

Create a budget

Figure out what you can afford, how much you want to spend across different categories, and stick to the plan. Regularly track your spending and you will avoid overextending yourself.  Do that and you won’t have to worry about late payments. 


We understand that late credit card payments happen from time to time, but with a little preparation and the right financial tools, you’ll be able to avoid them down the road. Learn more about opening an N26 account today, and start working towards a better financial future.

¹N26's cashback offers are powered by Dosh. View our terms and conditions.

The N26 account is offered by Axos Bank®, Member FDIC. N26 Inc. is a service provider of Axos Bank. All deposit accounts of the same ownership and/or vesting held at Axos Bank are combined and insured under the same FDIC Certificate 35546. All deposit accounts through Axos Bank brands are not separately insured by the FDIC from other deposit accounts held with the same ownership and/or vesting at Axos Bank. The N26 Visa® Debit Card is issued by Axos Bank pursuant to a license by Visa U.S.A. Inc. The N26 Visa Debit Card may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.

By N26

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