Recent Late Payments Hurt Credit Scores the Most

A man has his hands to his face as documents and his laptop are on the kitchen table.
Dear Experian,

Why has my credit score dropped 42 points? There is a late payment on one of my cards which has since been brought current, and four of my accounts have been paid off and have a "0" balance. Why doesn't my score increase as quickly when I pay off accounts as it does when I miss a payment?


Dear KRS,

There are many factors within your credit history that affect your credit scores. The single most important indicator of credit risk is your payment history. A missed payment will have the greatest and longest lasting impact. The more recently the missed payment occurred, the greater that impact will be, and the more missed payments you have, the longer it will take to recover.

How to Recover from a Missed Payment

Think about someone who has broken your trust. It takes just one action in one moment to lose your trust, but it could take weeks, months or even years of positive interactions to regain it, depending on what the person did to violate your trust.

Bringing the account current is an important first step in restoring your credit scores, but to offset the risk the late payment represented, you must continue to demonstrate a current history of on-time payments.

Use at least one of your credit cards to make occasional small purchases and pay the balance on time and in full each month to avoid finance charges. These on-time payments will add positive activity to help off-set the negative payments in your past. Keeping your balances low will have a positive impact on your credit scores as well.

Over time your credit scores will rebound. The length of time it takes to recover will depend on how serious any other negative issues were.

Thanks for asking.
Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist

The purpose of this question submission tool is to provide general education on credit reporting. The Ask Experian team cannot respond to each question individually. However, if your question is of interest to a wide audience of consumers, the Experian team may include it in a future post and may also share responses in its social media outreach. If you have a question, others likely have the same question, too. By sharing your questions and our answers, we can help others as well.

Personal credit report disputes cannot be submitted through Ask Experian. To dispute information in your personal credit report, simply follow the instructions provided with it. Your personal credit report includes appropriate contact information including a website address, toll-free telephone number and mailing address.

To submit a dispute online visit Experian's Dispute Center. If you have a current copy of your personal credit report, simply enter the report number where indicated, and follow the instructions provided. If you do not have a current personal report, Experian will provide a free copy when you submit the information requested. Additionally, you may obtain a free copy of your report once a week through December 31, 2022 at AnnualCreditReport.