Can't Pay Your Credit Card Bills This Month? What You Can Do (2023)

  • Money
  • Credit Cards

You can help prevent damage to your credit score early if you take these steps.

Can't Pay Your Credit Card Bills This Month? What You Can Do (1)
Can't Pay Your Credit Card Bills This Month? What You Can Do (2)
(Video) I Can't Pay My Credit Card Bills

Katie Teague Writer II

Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.

Expertise Personal Finance: Social Security and taxes

See full bio

Katie Teague

(Video) What Should You Do If You Can't Pay Credit Card Bill? Financial Problem 🔥🔥🔥

6 min read

While inflation continues to drive the cost of items up in the US, more credit card customers are struggling to make their required minimum payments. And though the White House has promised to crack down on unfair late fees, it won't solve the problem of damaged credit scores and theincreased interest that consumers will need to pay.

The average credit card balance for Americans is $5,910, according to CNET sister site Bankrate. And there's a growing concern that many credit card accounts will become delinquent as borrowers fall behind on payments. A January report from suggests that 64% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, including the majority of people earning more than $100,000.

If you're struggling to make your credit card payments, we've got some options that can help you stay on your feet while you try to pay your bills down. For more, here are the best credit cards for paying off debt.

1. Call your credit card company and explain your situation

As soon as you find out you won't be able to make your minimum payment, contact your credit card company so they're aware of your situation. If the company is unaware, it could assume the worst and may take action. Informing your credit card provider can help avoid any bad consequences and keep you in control.

Your credit card company may be able to establish a payment plan that you can afford. The lender could also move your payment due date so that it works better with your paycheck. It could also be possible for you to negotiate a lower APR -- the annual interest that you pay on your credit card balance.

Whatever you work out, get the details in writing. Bruce McClary, senior vice president for communications at theNational Foundation for Credit Counseling, told CNET that you should make sure you receive an official confirmation and terms of any changes to your account from your credit card issuer in case things don't turn out the way you thought they would.

(Video) Paying A Credit Card Bill (I Wish I Knew THIS)

The credit card issuer might also have relief or hardship programs (see below) that hurt your credit score less than going into arrears (an overdue account) or having your account charged off, meaning it's written off as a loss and is closed to future charges. When that happens, your credit utilization ratio increases, which can drop your credit score. It can also decrease your credit history, which impacts your credit score.

Can't Pay Your Credit Card Bills This Month? What You Can Do (4)

2. Try credit counseling or a debt management program

Another option for help with credit card debt is to seek out non-profit credit counseling agencies or debt management programs that can help with budgeting.

"A debt management program allows you to get back on track affordably within your budget, while you also benefit from reduced payments and interest rates until you pay off your accounts," McClary explained. These programs can help you find a long term solution with your creditors based on your budget, making payments more sustainable. They can alsonegotiate with creditors on your behalfto create a new payment plan.

Rod Griffin, senior director of consumer education at Experian, suggests contacting your attorney general's office or theConsumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well as checkingConsumer.govfor all of your local options.

3. Rework your budget and find places to save or earn more

If you're running into budgeting problems that are making it difficult to pay your bills, consider cutting any unnecessary monthly expenses and applying for government assistance. There are programs that can give you an allowance to pay your energy bills -- for instance, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. States also offer rental assistance, as well asTemporary Assistance for Needy Families, which helps with food, housing, home energy, child care and job training.

Next, consider canceling streaming services or cable, cutting back on shopping and returning unnecessary recent purchases. Try eating at home more often and cutting back on restaurants and specialty coffees. If possible, work from home to save money on gas. You could also use a "pay as you go" car insurance option if you don't drive often. These small changes may not be enough to cover your bills, depending on how much you owe, but the money you save can still add up in the long run.

Once you've nailed down your opportunities to save, start looking for additional ways to make more money on the side. Go through your storage closet of unwanted items and used electronics and list them for sale on apps like eBay, Mercari and Poshmark. You could start up a side hustle or sign up to be an Uber or Lyft driver. You could also rent out your car on Turo when you're not using it.

4. Transfer your balances to a 0% intro APR credit card

If your credit score is still good enough -- for instance, you haven't missed any payments yet -- consider applying for a 0% introductory APR credit card and transferring your balances. You'll typically need a credit score of at least 670 to take advantage of one of these cards, but shifting your credit card debt to a 0% intro APR card can save you time and money when trying to pay off credit card debt.

However, if you're already in financial trouble and can't make your current minimum payment, this may not be the best option for you as you'll still be expected to make payments on your new card, even during the intro period. If you don't, your 0% APR period might end early.

If you're not able to get approved for a 0% intro APR and have multiple credit card balances, consider applying for a debt consolidation loan. Your debt will still collect interest, but you'll only have one payment to make and you could get a lower rate overall.


Can't Pay Your Credit Card Bills This Month? What You Can Do (5)

Downsides of credit card hardship programs

Although you won't see them advertised much, many creditors provide hardship programs that help you pay off your credit card debt. The terms vary by lender but can include options like skipping payments or reducing your minimum payment or your APR. Generally, you need to apply for the program by contacting your creditor, but there may be certain stipulations. For example, you may need to provide evidence that you're experiencing hardship.

However, the programs have a few disadvantages that could damage your credit score. Here's what they are.

1. Settling your debt for less than originally agreed upon

If you settle your debt for less than originally agreed -- for example, if your original debt was $15,000 but you settled for $10,000 -- it could damage your credit score because you didn't fulfill your original obligation. On the other hand, McClary adds that while you're focused on paying off your credit cards, you should prioritize settling your debt over your credit score -- paying your debt will have a much bigger long-term effect than obsessing over isolated credit components.

2. Issuers could lower your credit limit or close your account

The credit card company could reduce your credit limit or even close your account while you're making payments, which will both ding your credit score. A lower credit limit would impact your credit utilization ratio (the sum of your balances in comparison to your credit limits) -- a major piece of credit scores -- as your total credit used will increase.

If your account later gets closed, your average credit age (the length of all your accounts divided by total number of accounts), another credit score component, will decrease. Your credit utilization ratio and length of credit history are two important factors in your credit score.

3. Signing up for a hardship program, in general

Just signing up for a hardship plan could indirectly hurt your credit score, WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez told CNET. "Your credit card issuer may put a note on your credit report that can alert other potential creditors of your financial problems."

Due to the potential negative consequences of hardship programs, Griffin says it may be best to work through a good relief program with a financial advisor instead.

For more information, here's how to get out of credit card debt. Also, here's what to know about debt consolidation and how it hurts and helps your credit.

If you want to build your bad credit but need the tools, check out our recommendations for the best credit cards for bad credit and best credit cards for fair and average credit. Using these cards in conjunction with best practices for boosting your credit will help insulate your financial standing.


Can't Pay Your Credit Card Bills This Month? What You Can Do? ›

Informing your credit card provider can help avoid any bad consequences and keep you in control. Your credit card company may be able to establish a payment plan that you can afford.

What to do if you cant pay your credit card bill this month? ›

Call your credit card company and explain your situation

As soon as you find out you won't be able to make your minimum payment, contact your credit card company so they're aware of your situation. If the company is unaware, it could assume the worst and may take action.

How many months can you miss a credit card payment? ›

If you missed a credit card payment by one day, it's not the end of the world. Credit card issuers don't report payments that are less than 30 days late to the credit bureaus. If your payment is 30 or more days late, then the penalties can add up.

How can I escape my credit card bill? ›

12 ways to clear off your credit card debt
  1. step 1: write it down. ...
  2. step 2: prioritise your payments. ...
  3. step 3: make your payment plan. ...
  4. step 4: always pay the minimum amount. ...
  5. step 5: always pay on time. ...
  6. step 6: negotiate with your bank. ...
  7. step 7: consider a credit card balance transfer. ...
  8. step 8: consider a loan.
Dec 29, 2021

Can I pause my credit card payments? ›

If you think your situation will improve in the next few months, ask your credit card company to freeze interest and other charges. You can ask them to either: pause your card repayments - this means you won't need to pay anything until your situation improves.

How many payments can you miss on credit card? ›

If you don't pay on time, you might not be able to use your card for new purchases until your account is current. When a credit card account goes 180 days—a full six months—past due, the credit card issuer must close and charge off the account.

What happens if I can't pay my credit card in full? ›

If you pay the minimum required but not the full balance due: Your total unpaid balance will accrue interest at your card's regular APR. You'll also lose your grace period, so new purchases will accrue interest right away, too.

How many payments can you miss before they cancel your credit card? ›

If your payment is 180 days late, your lender may declare it a charge-off. This means that the issuer takes it off their books, but you still owe the money.

How long can you go without paying back a credit card? ›

Credit cards usually have an interest-free period of up to 56 days from the moment of purchase, and a minimum payment due on a specific day of the month.

How many missed payments before a credit card company sues? ›

After all collection efforts have been exhausted, credit card lawsuits are generally initiated after 180 days since the first missed payment. In other words, credit card companies will usually wait until around six months of non-payment have passed before suing.

Is it illegal to not pay off a credit card? ›

NO. You cannot go to jail simply for failing to pay your credit card debt. It is also illegal for creditors or debt collectors to threaten you with arrest or any kind of criminal penalty to try to get you to pay.

Is there a way to get rid of a credit card without hurting your credit? ›

A credit card can be canceled without harming your credit score⁠. To avoid damage to your credit score, paying down credit card balances first (not just the one you're canceling) is key. Closing a charge card won't affect your credit history (history is a factor in your overall credit score).

How to get out of 30K credit card debt? ›

4 ways to pay off $30K in credit card debt
  1. Focus on one debt at a time.
  2. Consolidate your debts.
  3. Use a balance transfer credit card.
  4. Make a budget to prevent future overspending.
Jul 22, 2022

Can you ask for an extension on a credit card payment? ›

Ask your issuer for help

For example, many credit card companies are willing to extend your due date or allow you to make modified payments. If there's a particular reason that you can't pay this month — for example, you've lost your job or are facing a serious medical crisis — be honest about this, too.

Can I suspend my credit card payment one month? ›

Credit card forbearance programs are provided by card issuers to offer consumers facing financial hardship, such as recent job layoff, reduction in working hours or furlough, temporary relief. Some common types of forbearance include: Pausing monthly bill payments. Lowering or eliminating minimum payments.

Can I freeze my card without Cancelling it? ›

Many credit card issuers allow cardmembers to temporarily freeze, or lock, their account. This can prevent it from being used for any new transactions. If you're pretty sure you left your card at the local coffee shop, you can freeze the account until you have a chance to find it without canceling the card entirely.

Do credit card companies ever forgive debts? ›

Credit cards are another example of a type of debt that generally doesn't have forgiveness options. Credit card debt forgiveness is unlikely as credit card issuers tend to expect you to repay the money you borrow, and if you don't repay that money, your debt can end up in collections.

How many missed payments is too much? ›

Anything more than 30 days will likely cause a dip in your credit score that can be as much as 180 points. Here are more details on what to expect based on how late your payment is: Payments less than 30 days late: If you miss your due date but make a payment before it's 30 days past due, you're in luck.

What are 3 consequences of missing a credit card payment? ›

There are three main ways a late or missed payment can impact you financially:
  • You can be charged late payment fees.
  • You may face having the interest rate on your card raised to the penalty rate.
  • Your late payment may be added to your credit history and can end up affecting your credit score.
Jan 23, 2023

How many late credit card payments is bad? ›

As you exceed 60 and 90 days past due, your score suffers more. If you have a lower credit score to begin with and a couple of late payments on your credit report, then another will likely bring your score down another 60 to 80 points. And every late payment makes it harder to improve your credit score.

Is emergency debt relief legit? ›

Yes, National Debt Relief is a legitimate company accredited by the Better Business Bureau and currently holds an A+ rating. It also has IAPDA (International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators) accreditations for all of its arbitrators and an AFCC (American Fair Credit Council) membership.

Do credit card companies hate when you pay in full? ›

Yes, credit card companies do like it when you pay in full each month. In fact, they consider it a sign of creditworthiness and active use of your credit card. Carrying a balance month-to-month increases your debt through interest charges and can hurt your credit score if your balance is over 30% of your credit limit.

What are the 4 stages of delinquency? ›

Whenever a crime happens and that too intentionally, there is a full-fledged process or stages behind it. In case of every crime, Firstly there is an intention to commit it, Secondly, preparation to commit it, Thirdly, attempt to commit it and Lastly the accomplishment.

How do I recover my missed credit card payments? ›

The process is easy: simply write a letter to your creditor explaining why you paid late. Ask them to forgive the late payment and assure them it won't happen again. If they do agree to forgive the late payment, your creditor should adjust your credit report accordingly.

How many payments can you miss before? ›

And here, the answer is more complex, as it hangs on your relationship building with the lender. Most won't begin repossession until you miss three or more payments, but, as mentioned, they have the right to act after the first instance. The only solution is to try and build a positive relationship.

Is credit card a debt trap? ›

Defining a Debt Trap

Without an established emergency fund, credit cards and payday loans are two of the most costly options for dealing with these unexpected expenses. It may be difficult to make payments toward your debt and you may incur late payment fees and high interest, further compounding your debt.

Can unused credit cards hurt you? ›

Length of credit history

Closing an unused credit card causes that account to stop aging, which can negatively affect your average account age and hurt your credit. If the account you close is one of your oldest accounts, that damage can be even worse.

How likely will a credit card company sue you? ›

Credit card companies sue for non-payment in about 15% of collection cases. Usually debt holders only have to worry about lawsuits if their accounts become 180-days past due and charge off, or default. That's when a credit card company writes off a debt, counting it as a loss for accounting purposes.

How long can credit card companies come after you? ›

After six years of dormancy on a debt, a debt collector can no longer come after and sue you for an unpaid balance. Keep in mind, though, that a person can inadvertently restart the clock on old debt, which means that the six-year period can start all over again even if a significant amount of time has already lapsed.

Can Social Security be garnished for credit card debt? ›

407, 652(b), 659 and 662(f)) LEVY AND GARNISHMENT OF BENEFITS. Generally, Social Security benefits are exempt from execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or from the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law.

What happens when your credit card expires and you still owe money? ›

Your card expiring does not close your account, so it does not harm your credit rating or credit score in any way. Your balance does not go away. If you hoped your credit card expiration date would get you out of paying, you hoped wrong. Even if your account closes, you still have to pay off that balance.

What happens if you owe a credit card company money and never pay it? ›

Your debt will go to a collection agency. Debt collectors will contact you. Your credit history and score will be affected. Your debt will probably haunt you for years.

Is it better to cancel a credit card or just not use it? ›

It is better to keep unused credit cards open than to cancel them because even unused credit cards with a $0 balance will still report positive information to the credit bureaus each month. It is especially worthwhile to keep an unused credit card open when the account does not have an annual fee.

How can I get out of credit card debt without extra money? ›

You can get out of debt with no money and bad credit with the help of a debt management program or a loan from a friend or family member. You should also look into getting a debt consolidation loan for bad credit, especially if you have some income despite not having any money saved.

What will dissolve credit cards? ›

Put your card in a vessel and fill with acetone until the card is completely submerged. Cover the container so the acetone doesn't all evaporate, and wait 15-30 minutes.

How to pay $5,000 of credit card debt? ›

If you're looking to pay off $500, $5,000 or more in credit card debt, these nine strategies can help:
  1. Debt snowball method.
  2. Debt avalanche method.
  3. Balance transfer credit card.
  4. Credit card consolidation loan.
  5. Home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC)
  6. Credit counseling.
  7. 401(k) loan.
  8. Debt settlement.
Sep 30, 2021

Is 5000 a lot of credit card debt? ›

Lots of people have credit card debt, and the average balance in the U.S. is $6,194. About 52% of Americans owe $2,500 or less on their credit cards. If you're looking at $5,000 or higher, you should really get motivated to knock out that debt quickly.

How to pay off 20k in 6 months? ›

How I Paid Off $20,000 in Debt in 6 Months
  1. Make a Budget and Stick to It. You must know where your money goes each month, full stop. ...
  2. Cut Unnecessary Spending. Remember that budget I mentioned? ...
  3. Sell Your Extra Stuff. ...
  4. Make More Money. ...
  5. Be Happy With What You Have. ...
  6. Final Thoughts.
Oct 25, 2022

Can I ask my credit card company to lower my payment? ›

It may decline your request, but it doesn't hurt to ask. If you've established a history of on-time payments and other responsible behavior with the issuer, leverage this information to your benefit. A lower interest rate can ensure you pay less in interest over time, so it's worth asking.

How do you fight a credit card bill? ›

How to Dispute a Credit Card Charge
  1. Call the customer service number on the back of your credit card or on your statement.
  2. Email customer service.
  3. Dispute through the financial institution's app.
  4. Dispute the transaction in writing (the address should be on your statement)
Jan 9, 2023

Can I postpone credit card due date? ›

Your bank or credit card issuer may allow you to change your statement due date - although you may only be permitted a certain number of date changes per year. Changing your credit card's payment due date may offer some budgeting flexibility, including the possibility of scheduling your payment close to a pay day.

What happens if I don't pay my credit card for 5 months? ›

Your creditor will send your unpaid debt to a collection agency. If you can't pay credit card debt after several months, you may find your credit card canceled due to nonpayment, and the creditor may send your account to a collection agency.

What happens if I don t pay my credit card in full in a month? ›

Any amount that's left at the end of the billing cycle is carried over to next month's bill. Credit cards charge interest on unpaid balances, so if you carry a balance from month to month, interest is accrued on a daily basis.

What happens if you delay credit card payment? ›

You will have to pay a late fee if you pay your bill after the due date. The late fee would be charged by the bank in your next credit card bill. In a recent move, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has directed banks to charge late fee only if the payment has been due for more than three days after the due date.

How do I temporarily disable my credit card? ›

Lost or misplaced your credit card? It's easy to instantly stop purchases temporarily.
Lock and unlock your credit card
  1. After signing in, tap the credit card you want to lock or unlock.
  2. Swipe up to Account services and tap "Lock & unlock card"
  3. Tap the toggle switch to change the status of your card.

Is it better to freeze or close credit cards? ›

In general, it's best to keep unused credit cards open so that you benefit from a longer average credit history and a larger amount of available credit. Credit scoring models reward you for having long-standing credit accounts, and for using only a small portion of your credit limit.

Does blocking a card stop transactions? ›

Locking your card prevents new purchases, cash advances and balance transfers. Recurring transactions will still go through, and you can still make purchases through a digital wallet.

Do credit card bills have a grace period? ›

Which credit cards have a grace period? Every major credit card issuer, and the vast majority of smaller ones, give you a grace period when you pay your statement balance in full by the due date. Federal law does not require a grace period, but when an issuer offers one, it must be at least 21 days.

How do I extend my credit card payment? ›

Ask your issuer for help

For example, many credit card companies are willing to extend your due date or allow you to make modified payments. If there's a particular reason that you can't pay this month — for example, you've lost your job or are facing a serious medical crisis — be honest about this, too.

What is the maximum grace period for credit card? ›

late payment charges and other related charges, if any, only when a credit card account remains 'past due for more than three days." So, if you have missed your credit card payment due date, you can make the payment within three days of the due date and avoid late payment penalty.

How do I extend my credit card due date? ›

You may be able to change your credit card statement due date by communicating with your credit card issuer. Some ways of doing this include calling their customer service number or visiting your online account to change your credit card's due date.

What happens if I miss 1 credit card payment? ›

After missing a payment, you'll likely see two charges: a late fee and interest on the balance. If the missed payment was an accident, we recommend paying off the balance and immediately calling your issuer to explain that you made an innocent mistake.

What happens if credit card payment is not paid on due date? ›

You will have to pay a late fee if you pay your bill after the due date. The late fee would be charged by the bank in your next credit card bill. In a recent move, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has directed banks to charge late fee only if the payment has been due for more than three days after the due date.


1. I Haven't Paid My Credit Card Bill In 2 Years!
(The Ramsey Show - Highlights)
2. What If I Can't Pay My Credit Card?
(StepChange Debt Charity)
3. ALWAYS Pay Your Credit Card On This Date! | INCREASE CREDIT SCORE FAST
4. Behind On My Credit Card Bills!
(The Ramsey Show - Highlights)
5. How to get out of Credit Card debt WITHOUT Paying Interest!
(Scott Shafer)
6. When To Pay Credit Card Bill (INCREASE CREDIT SCORE!)
(Naam Wynn)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Catherine Tremblay

Last Updated: 08/09/2023

Views: 5907

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (47 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Catherine Tremblay

Birthday: 1999-09-23

Address: Suite 461 73643 Sherril Loaf, Dickinsonland, AZ 47941-2379

Phone: +2678139151039

Job: International Administration Supervisor

Hobby: Dowsing, Snowboarding, Rowing, Beekeeping, Calligraphy, Shooting, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Catherine Tremblay, I am a precious, perfect, tasty, enthusiastic, inexpensive, vast, kind person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.