Late Payment Removal: How To Write a Goodwill Letter [Template Included]
7 MIN READ
Published November 15, 2023 | Updated November 16, 2023
Late payments not only cost you a penalty APR or late fees on your credit card account or loan, but they can also profoundly impact your credit health. Your payment history is the most important part of your FICO score, so a single 30-day late payment can cause your credit score to drop significantly, by as much as 50-75 points or more.
If you missed a payment but otherwise have a history of using credit responsibly, goodwill letters may help you get the derogatory mark off your credit history. Use a good late payment removal letter template, such as the one we share here, to request the creditor to remove the late payment from your credit report to bring your credit score back up.
What Is a Late Payment Removal Letter
A late payment removal letter, otherwise known as a goodwill letter, is a written request to your creditor to make an exception when it comes to their normal reporting, to remove a late payment from your credit report. A creditor may agree to your request if you have an otherwise good-to-excellent repayment history and you demonstrate the willingness to handle credit more responsibly. Goodwill letters are often used as a valuable part of a comprehensive credit repair strategy to bring your credit score back up to a healthy number.
It's important to remember that creditors are not legally obligated to remove accurate payment information, and may still report it to the three major credit bureaus– Experian, Equifax, and Transunion–if you do make a payment that is 30-days late or more. However, writing a goodwill letter takes little time and doesn’t cost you anything, other than a postage stamp, so it may be worth the effort.
When To Write a Goodwill Letter
You should write a goodwill letter only if you have a valid reason for a late payment. If you have a strong credit profile and a history of timely payments, here are a few circumstances where you may want to write a goodwill letter:
- Missed payment due to a technical error
- Temporary financial hardship, such as job loss
- Medical emergency, which prevented you from being able to make the payment
- Address change and didn’t receive the bill
- Missed payment while changing between bank accounts
- Wrongly configured auto pay
How Late Payments Can Affect Your Credit Score
Making timely payments is important because your payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO score. A strong payment history shows creditors that you’re a reliable borrower. For example, a single late payment may lower your credit score by 63 to 83 points if your credit score is 793.
If you have multiple missed payments, or your payment is late by 60 or even 90 days, the drop in your credit score can be greater. With a lower credit score, it will be very difficult to qualify for new credit cards or loans. It may even be hard to rent an apartment.
What Can Goodwill Letters Remove?
There are several different types of credit repair letters you can use to address different issues in your credit score. You can use goodwill letters for smaller, negative items, such as missed or late payments, which were legitimate and accurately-reported, but were the result of some other circumstance or issue, other than simply forgetting to pay.
For more serious credit-related issues, many creditors and banks have agreements with credit bureaus that they won’t negotiate to remove charge-offs, collection accounts, or repossessions in exchange for payment, so a goodwill letter may not be applicable in more serious situations such as those.
While you can send a goodwill letter for just about any type of derogatory mark, they’re generally most effective when you want to remove a one-time negative issue.
Tips To Write an Effective Goodwill Letter
Even if you’re using a late payment removal letter template, it’s important to keep a few key points in mind. A goodwill letter should be concise, clear, and professional. Rather than focusing solely on the emotional aspect, the letter should show the creditor that a single late payment is not indicative of your overall credit behavior.
Show that you have taken steps to improve the way you handle finances and let them see you as a valuable client. If you have done business with the creditor or bank for several years, stress that your relationship has been a strong and positive one. When writing a goodwill letter, it’s also important to include relevant details that will help the credit card company or financial institution identify you. Include this information in your letter:
- Full name
- Current address
- Contact information
- Account number
- The type of issue
- Date the issue occurred
- How long you’ve been in a business relationship
- Your strong credit history in the past
- Regret that it occurred
- Steps you’ve taken to improve
- Specific mention of what you’d like the creditor to do
Free Goodwill Letter Template
While you’ll find a number of late payment removal letter templates online, it’s important to personalize any sample you use. Use the sample goodwill letter below to explain your specific financial situation and request politely to remove the late payment:
[Your full name]
[Your current address]
[Your phone number]
[Your account number]
To whom it may concern,
This letter is in regard to a late payment for my (credit card/mortgage/auto loan) account dated (date of the issue).
Upon reviewing my (credit bureau) credit report recently, I discovered a late payment reported on (date) for my (credit card/mortgage/auto loan) account number (credit account number). I realize the inconvenience caused to you by the late payment, and I’m truly sorry for it. I wanted to let you know that the late payment was due to (reason for late payment).
Over the course of (number of years) years of our business history, I have always maintained an on-time payment history. While I take full responsibility for the late payment, I wanted to point out that it isn’t a true reflection of my credit history and ability to manage my payments in a timely fashion.
I’ve set up automatic payments since I discovered this missed payment, and am committed to keeping my account in good standing moving forward. I’m hoping you’ll make a goodwill gesture for this one-time oversight on my part and remove the late payment from my credit reports.
Thank you for your cooperation and consideration,
[Your full name]
How Often Do Goodwill Letters Work?
Goodwill letters are more likely to work for smaller issues, such as late payment removal, not for serious offenses, such as collections. If you have collections on your credit report or other issues, consider working with a credit repair company instead.
Many banks and financial institutions have specific policies that don’t allow them to honor goodwill adjustment requests. However, goodwill letters don’t cost anything, and it may be worth the effort to send the letter to try to remove the negative information from your credit files.