How Can I Show an Account Has Been Paid?

A woman smiles as she holds her credit card while the man next to her looks at a document.
Dear Experian,

What proof can I get from a lender that a debt has been paid? Will a letter from the lender remove the negative payment from my credit?


Dear LFL,

When you pay off a debt, the lender will provide an update to Experian and the other credit reporting agencies to notify them that the account is now paid in full. However, it's still always a good idea to ask for written documentation that the debt has been paid off in case you need to provide proof in the future.

If more than a month or two has passed and your account has not yet been updated, you can dispute the information with the appropriate credit bureau or bureaus. You can submit a dispute to Experian and submit a copy of any documentation online. You can also contact the lender directly and ask that they notify the credit reporting companies of your successful payoff.

How Long Will the Account Stay on My Report?

Paying off an account does not automatically remove it from your credit report. If an account was never late, it may remain on your credit report for up to 10 years from the date it was paid and closed. In your case, you mentioned a negative payment. Late payments remain on your credit report for seven years. If your account was delinquent at the time it was paid off, it will be automatically removed from your credit report seven years from the original delinquency date.

Even though the account may remain on your credit report for some time after it has been paid off, there are some steps you can take to begin rehabilitating your credit right away.

How Can I Rehabilitate My Credit After Delinquency?

Payment history is an important factor in your credit scores, so missing payments and delinquent accounts will have a substantially negative impact on your credit scores. Although the late payment history remains on your report for up to seven years, it will impact your score less as time goes on. Here are some things you can do to begin rebuilding your credit if you've had difficulties in the past:

  • Make sure all your other accounts are current. This includes collection accounts. Some credit scoring models exclude collection accounts from the score calculation once they are paid in full. That means paying off any outstanding collection accounts can help improve certain scores right away.
  • Pay all accounts on time going forward. Making every payment on time is the best thing anyone can do for their credit scores, and lenders tend to weigh your most recent payment history more heavily. In time, your positive payment history will show lenders that you can manage credit responsibly and that the risk of you defaulting on future payments is low.
  • Keep your credit card balances as low as possible. Most lenders view your credit utilization ratio as an important indicator of risk. Also called your balance-to-limit ratio, credit utilization is calculated by adding up all of your credit card balances and dividing that number by the total of all your credit card limits. The lower your utilization ratio, the better for credit scores. Ideally, you should pay your credit card balances in full each month.
  • Sign up for Experian Boost®ø. Experian offers a free service called Experian Boost that allows you to add your positive utility, cellphone and streaming service payments to your Experian credit report so that you can get credit for those on-time bill payments. Experian will provide you with a free credit score both before and after the payments are added so that you can see how much your score has changed.

Thanks for asking.

Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist