I have something a little embarrassing to admit. I, Jessica Hinks, an advocate of financial organization and simplicity, missed a credit card payment.

Honest to goodness, paying the bill NEVER CROSSED MY MIND ONCE.

Now, to be fair, I had a lot going on in my life. My brain was already multitasking like a madwoman, so I choose to give it some grace 🙂 If this happens to you one day, give yourself some grace too.

Here is my story of what happened and how my credit score is now back to its rightful place:

A Regular Saturday

I was lounging around when I saw an email from my credit card company. They send me a free FICO credit score report each month, and I LOVE it. I opened my report expecting to see a happy little credit score smiling back at me like normal.

Then it happened.

My report said that my credit score dropped 133 points in one month!

Blinking a few times and gathering my composure, I could only wonder what on earth happened. Then I saw this:

 

Yes, it was a missed credit card payment. I only have 2 credit cards, so it wasn’t hard to figure it out. I pay my primary credit card faithfully every month, and I use that card frequently. That meant the culprit was my JCPenney department store card, which I only use about 3 times a year. But I couldn’t remember using it and I never received a bill.

Then, it hit me. Not only did I use the card the month prior and forget to pay it off, I had forgotten to change my address with JCPenney when I moved! That is why I never received the bill.

So, the guilty party was discovered (oops – it was me 🙁 ).

So, the guilty party was discovered (oops – it was me 🙁 ). Click To Tweet

Frenzied Minutes Later

I furiously researched credit scores, how they are impacted by missed payments, and how to fix them. Honestly, I was not reading a lot of good news. It seemed that the only person who could forgive the missed payment and have the credit bureau fix the report was the lender aka JCPenney (Synchrony Financial manages their credit cards).

A Fretful Monday

I called Synchrony during their business hours with the goal of killing them with kindness.

I spoke with the sweetest woman from Akron, Ohio! I almost felt like she was a neighbor. I calmly explained the situation, but I also expressed how eager I was to get this situation (and my credit score) fixed.

I admitted my fault in missing a payment since I didn’t receive a bill to remind me… which was also my fault as I did not update my address.

She cut in and said it was THEIR fault! Confused? Me too. She said that the bill was returned to them, but no one made further effort in contacting me. She said they would happily contact the credit bureau and have them remove the missed payment from the report.

Synchrony was allowed up to one month to correct it and the credit bureau was allowed up to one month to change the report. So, within two months, this could be behind me! 😀

A Happy Yesterday

I received yet another reliable FICO credit report. I was hesitant but hopeful to see my happy credit score returned. I am relieved to report that I saw the following image:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Lessons I Learned

  1. PAY YOUR CREDIT CARD BILLS. One day I will elaborate more on the dangers of irresponsible credit card use

  2. Only have as many credit cards as you can responsibly manage… apparently for me, that is one 🙂

  3. Kindness is the most effective tool.

I firmly believe that the Synchrony representative did not have to help me the way she did. However, with both of our mutual kindness and expressions of respect, we had an easy, beneficial discussion. Thank you, kind Akron lady!

I realize that everyone’s situations are different. Not all lenders will easily forgive a mishap like this one. In which case, do not panic. Pay your bill and any related late fees. Each month, your credit score should slowly recover. Unfortunately, a missed payment will not completely fall off of your report for 7 years, but its effect on your score until then can still lessen over time.

Experian, Equifax, and Transunion all have helpful educational material if you wish to know more about your credit score.

I do realize that this little mishap is not nearly as difficult as many credit situations some people face. I am not a credit counselor, but I would love to hear your story about how you overcame a tough credit problem!