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Select a topic from our most recent column January 11, 2006

Late payments, late fees and your credit report

Dear Max,

My husband tends to pay our mortgage payment late, but not necessarily late enough for the late fee. How would this affect our credit? And if it is late enough to incur the late fee but is less than 30 days late, does this also show up on our credit reports?

- JSU

Dear JSU,

The late payments will not affect your credit history unless your mortgage company reports them. Your mortgage company determines what triggers reporting the late payments.

Typically, an account is not reported to a credit reporting company until you have missed an entire payment cycle, meaning you did not pay until after the next month's due date. So, a payment that arrives a few days past the due date is unlikely to appear in your credit history. While that is the standard practice, some creditors might report the late payment sooner, so it is not wise to take a chance.

Late fees are unrelated to your credit report. Some companies will apply late fees if the check arrives an hour past the deadline. Others may allow a grace period of days or even weeks depending on the company's policies.

A few businesses will waive late fees and other charges if you have a previous history of always paying on time. They understand isolated incidents can happen and might be willing to forego the fee if you give them a call. However, most of the time, you will be required to pay it. All you can do then is try not to be late again.

Thanks for asking.


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