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The eCredable blog

How Late Can I Pay a Bill Before It Hurts My Credit?

It’s irritating to run across a bill and to realize it was due yesterday… or last week. If it’s a credit card bill, you may also have to pay a fee (sometimes, if it’s a rare slip-up, you can get it waived), and it can be especially scary to find an overdue bill if you have applied for credit or plan to in order to make a big purchase, like a house or vehicle. Readers often ask us how late a payment has to be before their creditors report it to the credit bureaus:

The last time I got up in front of a group to talk about my job, no one had questions for me. It was a high school career day a few weeks ago, and the students stared at me blankly as I dropped words like “personal finance,” “credit scores” and “debt.” I could tell they thought my work wasn’t exciting, that the topics I write about are boring. Everyone was happy when the bell rang to end my session.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, most negative information can be reported on credit reports for seven years. Why seven? Why not five, or 10 or some other amount of time?

Last month, the White House announced that more than half of American adults would soon have access to free credit scores through their credit card issuers. Soon after, Citi began sharing scores with its cardholders. Last week, upstart VantageScore announced it was making in-roads with lenders and is about to serve its 1 billionth score. This week comes word from FICO, the folks who supply the most commonly-used credit score, that it will for the first time make 18 different versions of its FICO score available to consumers — for a fee.

How long should someone wait for a credit report? I mailed AnnualCreditReport.com requests for a single credit agency report for my daughter and myself, but neither of us has received a response. I do not want to send an additional request and be billed for multiple reports.

How to leverage Alternative Data (like phone and utility bills) to impact traditional credit scores like FICO and VantageScore

We may be in an age of Big Data, but collecting information on consumers is nothing new. Credit reporting goes back to the late 1800s, when it was just a couple of guys going from door to door, asking merchants to describe the customers who had credit at their stores. The technical, sometimes-long files we now know as credit reports started out as a few notes in a ledger that said something like, “Reliable,” “Slow to repay” or “Won’t pay, but father will cover debt.”

Credit cards are the types of accounts that can have a very positive impact on your credit score, as long as you manage them correctly.

What Your Credit Reports Won't Tell You 

A credit report is a pretty simple concept: It’s a report on your past use of credit and loans. That part is generally pretty easy for people to grasp. It’s some of the other stuff on the report — and the stuff that’s not on the report — that confuses some and leads to misunderstanding the credit report’s purpose.

Most people that including your rent payment in your credit report is one of the smartest things you can do. It might be, but reporting two utility payments is more valuable than one rent payment, and much easier - and cheaper - to report.