Credit Building Tips

How to Remove Late Payments Incurred During COVID-19

Shaun Connell
October 28, 2022

It's easy enough to make a payment late during the best of times, but with the effects of COVID-19 still lingering, many people still struggle to pay all their bills on time.

The recent shock to the world economy disrupted supply chains which caused major delays in shipping. Labor shortages and rising demand only made things worse for many Americans, and inflation remained near a 40-year-high as of last month.

Two-and-a-half years into the pandemic, 75% of Americans have non-mortgage debt, and many of them report that they are struggling hard to pay them down. Last year Americans thought they would be able to pay their COVID-related debt off within a year, but now only 22% do.

"Seventy percent of Americans have lived paycheck to paycheck at some point during the pandemic, and nearly half (48%) are living paycheck to paycheck right now."

Forbes posted an article reporting that:

"75% of Americans have missed credit card payments due to COVID-19."

Obviously, some of these missed payments could be due to forgetfulness, but a "whopping 43% of respondents missed or paid late due to needing that money for essentials, while another 27% couldn't pay due to unexpected expenses."

Households who qualified as middle-income put their expenses on their credit cards, hoping to pay the debt off in the future. They also used bank loans and lines of credit and, in some cases, took on payday loans.

Experian reports,

"There's a good chance your lenders are prepared to work with you to provide payment relief without causing late payments to appear on your credit reports."

With the best will in the world, it hasn't been possible for everyone to pay bills on time and avoid late payment fees. We've researched ways for you to deal with and remove the late payments you may have incurred since 2020.

Solution iconThankfully, if you have late payments that resulted during COVID-19, there are ways to remove them from your credit report.


The CARES Act is the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that came into effect on March 27, 2020, and was created to help Americans impacted by COVID-19.

Solution iconOne of the biggest ways this act protects you is that creditors must make accommodations for people who are having trouble making their payments on time. You'll still have to make your payments, but if you contact your creditor or lender, they must offer you an alternative payment arrangement.


There are four main types of agreements creditors and lenders are currently making:

  1. Forbearance
  2. Deferment
  3. Loan modifications
  4. Partial or flexible payments

Once you have contacted your creditor and made arrangements with them, they cannot report your payments as "past due" as long as your account was in good standing prior to the pandemic.

The timeline applies to agreements that were made between January 31, 2020, and 120 days after the COVID-19 national emergency ends.

How to Remove a 30-Day Late Payment Incurred During COVID-19

Before you start negotiating with your creditor in order to get a late payment removed, you'll want to understand why you were reported late and identify the circumstances that caused the late payment.

Check if the payment was missed or if it bounced. A payment may be marked late because you didn't make a big enough payment to cover the minimum amount due.

It's always worth checking to see if the creditor made a mistake, not you.

Note iconIf you do find they made a mistake, call them as soon as possible.

Ten of these common mistakes were listed by Ali Zane on his iMax Credit site, and we've included them as he listed them:

  1. The creditor applied an annual/monthly fee to your account, which led to the late payment.
  2. You were locked out of online access to the account, or the creditor's system was down.
  3. The creditor had the wrong spelling of your address or a missing apartment number.
  4. The creditor failed to update their system to your new mailing address or email address that you had provided before.
  5. When processing your payment, the creditor's phone representative took down your wrong bank account info.
  6. The auto payment you had set up was canceled without you knowing.
  7. There was an interest charge incurred after you thought you had paid off the account in full.
  8. Charges were made to your card that was not authorized or were of a fraudulent nature.
  9. You had set up a prior deferment with the creditor due to COVID-19, and the creditor still marked you late.
  10. You made a payment on time, but the creditor failed to post it to your account.

If you find your late payment is due to one of these reasons, he recommends you ask the creditors to remove the "late payment" designation as a courtesy. It's also wise to ask them for a letter stating their willingness to remove the "incorrect late payment from the credit report."

Reviewing Credit Report

Some banks and credit card companies may positively respond to requests made by phone, while others would need a lot of convincing, and some would take hard work to get them to change their position.

Some extenuating circumstances may work in your favor if they apply to your situation. We haven't found a better list of these types of circumstances than those listed by Ali Zane in the same article, so we'll give them to you in their entirety:

  1. You traveled while statements were being sent to your home.
  2. You were hospitalized or suffering from emotional trauma.
  3. There was a death or emergency in the family.
  4. Your bookkeeper or accountant forgot to render payment.
  5. You had set up automatic payments through your bank, which encountered an error.
  6. Your email was hacked where you get e-statements, or the creditor's emails ended up in spam.
  7. Your paper statements and mail was being stolen.
  8. You had submitted a double payment the month prior, mistakenly thinking it would cover the next month.
  9. Your town was subjected to a natural disaster.

You won't be able to communicate these extenuating circumstances via a phone call. You'll need to fax the information to the appropriate credit bureau and ask them to review it, which usually happens within two to four weeks.

If you can now make your payments, were able to pay your bills on time, and only fell behind when the pandemic started, there are ways to remove the late payments from your account.

1. Ask

Many creditors can understand and sympathize with people struggling to keep up with paying their bills during this time. Calling your lender directly may give you a more human experience than you anticipated.

First, let them know that you have made or are making the past due payment immediately. They'll want to know your circumstances since the pandemic began so they can fully understand your situation. They might also ask you to scan and email them (or fax) supporting documents that show you lost your job or were ill due to COVID-19.

Calling a Creditor

You can request three things while on the phone with the representative:

  1. A late payment removal
  2. A reversal of any late payment fees
  3. A deferred payment for next month

2. Step It Up

Most creditors have higher-level customer resolution departments. If your initial phone call doesn't get you the results you need, ask to speak to a manager or someone in a more senior position.

Alternatively, you can Google the company's website to find their phone number, address, or department's email address. Send a letter to the CEO and include all your contact information so they can reply to your request.

Sending an Email

Make sure to include as much information as possible as to the circumstances that caused your payments to be late, and include any documents that will support your claim. A respectful and honest letter can go a long way to getting your late payments removed.

3. Get Help

If you do any amount of research or try to accomplish this on your own, you'll see that it's a lot of work. That's why it's sometimes best to hire a credit repair company to help you.

Getting Financial Help

Don't assume all credit repair companies are created equal. Make sure to check reviews to see what other people have to say about their experience with the company. Check to see if it complies with your state's licensing and registration requirements.

Finally, read the fine print about when they will charge you for their services. You don't want to pay them anything until they successfully repair your credit. Nor do you want to pay them a monthly fee or any extra hidden fees.

4. Forbearance

Although the circumstances of COVID-19 don't meet the criteria of "ordinary" circumstances that will qualify you for forbearance, many lenders are approving forbearance for those who are financially struggling due to the pandemic.

Qualifying for Forbearance

According to Experian:

"…any of your accounts placed in forbearance under the CARES Act will be "paused" in the payment status they are at when forbearance begins. If the account is current and in good standing, it will stay that way even if payments are reduced or suspended during forbearance. If an account is, say, 30 days past due when forbearance starts, it will remain at that status (and not rack up further delinquency) during the forbearance period."

They've also compiled an exhaustive list of financial and non-financial institutions' websites to help you find more relief measures.

5. Government Help with Bills

The U.S. is also invested in helping you get through this season and back on track financially. They've instituted a wide range of government programs to help with everything from phone bills to medical bills to prescription drug costs.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

These programs include:

SNAP — also known as food stamps — just got a boost to $36 a month for the average recipient. Check their eligibility requirements to determine whether you or someone you know who's in need qualifies.

The Benefits of Paying Bills on Time

Once the pandemic is behind us and we've had a chance to catch up, we'll all be in a better position to take charge of our financial life again.

The most important reason to prioritize making payments on time is that this alone is the best thing you can do to improve your credit score. Your payment history makes up 35% of your score. Pay on time, every time, and you'll be on your way to a great credit score.

Paying Bills on Time

Paying your bills on time will also save you money as you won't be charged late fees. Some companies set your "payment due" on a timer and will start to charge late fees the second the clock ticks over.

You'll benefit from lower interest rates as well as getting access to better products. Landlords consider your credit score as part of your application, and a higher credit score can give you the edge over other applicants.

One last shout-out to iMax Credit. Their team of expert credit repair specialists can help you with every credit situation you may face. The last list we'll share with you from them rates an extensive list of creditors based on how easy or difficult it is to get them to remove late payments:

Creditors That Are Easy to Work With:

The creditors we consider to be easy to work with include:

  • Americredit Financial Services dba G.M. Financial
  • Ally Financial
  • Applied Bank
  • Bloomingdales
  • Capital Bank
  • Carmax
  • Cashcall
  • Celtic Bank
  • Chrysler Financial
  • Credit Acceptance
  • Citi
  • Comenity Bank (store cards)
  • Credit One
  • Discover
  • DSNB (Department Stores National Bank)
  • Elan Financial
  • First Hawaiian
  • First Premier
  • Genesis FS Card Services
  • Greendot
  • GM Financial
  • Honda Financial
  • HSBC
  • Hyundai Financial
  • Kia Financial
  • Kohls
  • Macy's
  • Manufacturers and trader
  • Mercedes Benz Financial (MBZ Financial)
  • Money Lion
  • OneMain Financial
  • Oportun
  • Regional Acceptance Corp
  • Rise Credit
  • Specialized Loan Servicing (SPS)
  • Santander USA
  • Synchrony Bank (store cards)
  • Toyota Financial /Lexus
  • Wilshire Consumer
  • United Consumer Financial
  • U.S. Bank
  • Webbank
  • Westlake Financial

Creditors That Take Effort to Work With:

The creditors that may take a little more effort to work with include:

  • American Express
  • Barclays
  • BBVA
  • Credit Unions (any one of them)
  • Curacao
  • BM Harris
  • Capital One
  • Ford Motor Credit (FMCC)
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • Flagstar Bank
  • Freedom Mortgage
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Nissan Motor Credit
  • Newrez (Shellpoint Mortgage)
  • PNC Bank
  • Upstart Network
  • Upgrade inc
  • USAA
  • Wells Fargo Bank
  • PennyMac Mortgage

Creditors That Are Difficult to Work With:

The creditors that are considered difficult to work with include:

  • Affirm
  • Audi
  • BMW Financial
  • Bank of America
  • Chase credit card
  • Chase Auto loan
  • Goldman Sachs
  • JP Morgan Chase Bank
  • Lending Club
  • Student loans
  • Truist Bank
  • Volkswagen (V.W. Credit)
  • TD BANK (unless auto loan )

Some good news is that the Federal Reserve Bank (and many experts) don't think this inflation is long-term. They believe that once the supply chain issues are worked out, "in a lot of cases…prices will actually drop."

We can only hope they're right. In the meantime, if you're looking for ways to improve your credit scores as fast as possible, I'm here to help!

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why. 

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Written By:
Shaun Connell
Shaun Connell is a personal finance and credit expert with a passion for helping individuals eliminate debt and improve their credit. He's enjoyed writing investing and financial content for over 15 years, with expertise in real estate, debt, banking, credit, and wealth building. His work has been seen by millions on the web.

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