The due date on your credit card is a deadline, not a guideline.

I’m Adam Levin and this is the Wall Street Journal credit minute.

The first rule of credit is to always make timely payments, since this is the biggest factor affecting your credit scores.

Here’s what happens when you pay late:

  • If you fail to pay your bill within 30 days, you will be reported as late to one or more credit bureaus.
  • You will be assessed a late fee.
  • That negative information will remain on your credit report for seven years.
  • In addition to facing higher interest rates on future purchases from that credit card company, you run the risk of paying higher rates and having your application rejected when you apply for other credit products.

If you’re the forgetful type, consider setting up automatic notifications either by text or email or automatic debits from your bank. And every once and a while, you may be able to call your credit card issuer and get a late payment fee waived.

While paying on time isn’t the only factor creditors look at when considering you for a loan, it is a big one.

I’m Adam Levin. Come visit us at and learn how to take control of your credit.