It’s important to pay your bills on time. But everyone is human and makes mistakes. It’s possible you may have let one or more bill reminders slip and failed to pay on time. This damages your credit report and score. Fortunately, you can work to remove a late payment from your credit. You may be able to do this with a goodwill letter.
Sending the creditor a goodwill letter may convince it to remove late payment information from your credit report. But the letter should be well written and sincere. Knowing how to write this letter and where and when to send it can make a big difference.
Why you want to remove late payment red flags
When you don’t pay a bill or debt on time, it sends the wrong message to your creditor. Ignoring or forgetting about past due reminders can get you sent to collections. missing a payment can get your account closed or your credit limit reduced.
Say you eventually pay your bill in full and remove collection pressures from your plate. This could still trigger a more extended consequence. The creditor could report your late payment or collection to credit bureaus. That stains one, two, or all three of your credit reports (you have a separate credit report for each of the three credit card bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion).
These negative marks can stay on your credit reports for up to seven years. They can drag down your credit score, too. That makes it harder to qualify for new financial accounts or additional lines of credit. You may need new credit someday to buy or remodel a home, finance a car, fund your child’s tuition, or other goals.
If you have missed a payment or been sent to collections, review your three credit reports for free at annualcreditreport.com. See if a missed payment or collection is there. If so, it’s time to take action and attempt to remove late payment info or remove collection info from those reports.
How a goodwill letter can help
A goodwill letter is a document you can write and send to the creditor, lender, bank, or collection agency that initiated the late payment mark on your credit reports. The goal of the letter is to ask that organization to make a goodwill adjustment. This means removing the late payment or collections information from your three credit reports. You’re asking for mercy and leniency.
Note that the creditor might not grant your request. Your chances may depend on its policies and location. Local laws me require creditors to keep the black marks intact. But if you make an honest and forthright appeal with a well-written and carefully structured letter, you stand a better chance of getting those red flags wiped off your credit.
Your case is stronger if you can demonstrate that the late payment wasn’t entirely your fault or under your control. For example, that your company had a layoff and you lost your job. Or a loved one passed away. Or you were hospitalized or indisposed in some way. That can help explain your tardiness.
Make sure that you’re accurate, polite, and contrite. The letter shouldn’t ramble on with unnecessary details. And it shouldn’t exceed one page. Print it on paper and snail-mail it to the creditor. Attach paper copies of each of your three credit reports, with the late payment/collections marks circled. To ensure they receive your packet, send it by certified mail and request a with a return receipt.
The good news about a goodwill letter is that you don’t have to contact any of the three credit bureaus. If the creditor agrees to your request, it will do that work for you and try to get the unwanted marks eliminated. Each credit bureau has to agree to do so, however.
Remove a late payment: sample goodwill letter
Here’s a template you can use to compose your goodwill letter:
[Name of creditor]
[Address of creditor]
Re: Account number [insert here]
Dear [name of creditor, lender, bank, or collections agency],
I have been a satisfied and loyal patron of yours since [insert year]. Over these years, I have greatly enjoyed the [products or services] you’ve provided. I wanted to thank you for making my customer experience an enjoyable one.
Unfortunately, back in [month/year of payment missed], I missed a payment owed to you. I have a good history of paying my bills on time across my many accounts, including yours, as my attached credit reports demonstrate. But at that particular time, I had been experiencing [truthfully explain what factors and circumstances caused you to become distracted, forget, overlook, or be unable to afford to send the payment promptly].
Considering my good track record, I wanted to request that you work with the credit reporting agencies to remove the negative payment mark on my three credit reports (circled in the attached documents). I promise that I will never miss a payment again. I realize how important it is to maintain good credit, and you can rest assured that I will not do anything in the future that could jeopardize my credit-worthiness.
Thank you for your time, patience, and consideration.