Money·2 min read

What to Do If You Get Behind on Credit Card Payments

Falling behind on credit card payments
Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
July 24, 2020

The Story

Credit card debt can be financial quicksand even in the best economy (read: the opposite of now). Letting things slide usually means getting hefty late fees and a bad rep with the credit bureaus.

Okay, so how do I get back on track?

By having a serious conversation...with your budget. Look for any places you can scale back and put more toward your debt. Cutting cable or takeout might seem drastic, but temporary sacrifices can pay off. And get you back on your feet. Then make sure you’ve got a good debt payment strategy in place to get the (snow)ball rolling.

And if that’s not enough?

Ask your credit card company about relief options. They might be willing to lower or defer monthly payments if you’re going through a tough time. Some will even waive fees and adjust your interest rate. PS: the FDIC encouraged companies to be as accommodating as possible for customers who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. See a bunch of their policies here.

Is there anything else I can do?

If the bills just won’t quit, you can consider consolidating with a personal loan or balance-transfer card with a lower interest rate. Some balance-transfer options don’t charge ANY interest for a few months. Heads up: you usually need a decent credit score to qualify. And you could end up paying a lot more interest on any debt you don’t pay off during the promo period.

Still feeling stuck? The National Foundation for Credit Counseling nonprofit will connect you to a financial counselor who can help you make a plan – free of charge.


Falling behind never feels good. But it’s never too late to get back on track. Making some budgeting moves and keeping your credit card company in the loop can help you do it faster.

Subscribe to Skimm Money

Your source for the biggest financial headlines and trends, and how they affect your wallet.