This is What Happens if You Don’t Pay Your Credit Card Bill

stressed woman sits with her bills on the table

You don’t want to ignore your credit card bills. | JackF/iStock/Getty Images

Are you getting constant calls from debt collectors? Have you gotten to a point where you feel like you can’t keep up with your credit card payments? If you’ve been thinking about ignoring your credit card bills, you might want to rethink that plan.

Here’s what happens if you don’t pay your credit card bills.

Missing one payment

You won’t get off easy if you decide to skip one payment. Missing just one credit card payment could ding your credit score and result in fees. Depending on the type of credit card you have, the credit card company could assess a late fee. Furthermore, some companies will automatically hike your interest rate as soon as you become delinquent. Consequently, you’ll pay more in credit card interest.

After 30 days

Some credit card issuers might provide a grace period before reporting your account to the credit bureaus, but if you’re more than 30 days late it’s quite likely your account will be reported. Your credit scores will take a hit after a late payment appears on your credit report.

Beyond 30 days

There’s nowhere to hide when it comes to seriously delinquent credit card payments. Beyond 30 days, you’ll continue to rack up late fees and your credit scores will continue to take a dip. Eventually, if you still haven’t paid your bill, you’re at risk for having your account closed. This leads to even more problems down the road, because your credit utilization could significantly rise, and your credit history could be reduced.

After a few months

After a few months go by, the credit card company could decide to charge off your account. When an account is charged off, this means the creditor is writing off the debt as a loss. At this point, they don’t expect to get their money back. However, this doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.

Collections

The next step could result in your account being turned over to a collections agency. This will more than likely show upon your credit report. If you’re planning to apply for a loan soon, this could put a damper on your plans. The delinquent account and the collections will stay on your report for seven years.

Legal action

Sometimes, a creditor will pursue legal action to get you to fulfill your debt obligation. This could further harm your credit because the judgment will be included in your credit report, and will stay there for seven years. Consequently, you’ll have a tough time getting credit in the future.

What you can do

Instead of struggling in silence, it’s best to contact your creditor immediately. Even if you haven’t missed a payment, but you think you might run into trouble because you’ve recently experienced a job loss, major illness, or a divorce, you should speak to a representative and let him or her know about your situation. Don’t wait until things become unmanageable. Address the issue right away and get help as soon as you think you’ll need it.

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