Late credit card payments can damage credit scores

In life, there are some things you can be late for, such as an outing with friends or a sporting event. You may receive some minor complaints or miss the first touchdown, but generally the ramifications won't be too serious.

The same isn't true if you're late on a credit card payment. The consequences for falling behind on your bill may result in a delinquent mark appearing on your credit report – an item that will cause your credit score to drop.

Late or missed payments may also cause you to incur penalty fees or to accumulate additional interest charges on the unpaid balances, which could lead you to fall behind on other credit payments as well. Moreover, the resting interest rate on late credit card accounts can also be suddenly spiked to what bankers term the "default APR" with an even longer-term corresponding hit to the pocketbook.

But you may be able to avoid suffering bad credit by setting up automatic bill payments to ensure your balance is met when your statement arrives. Many banks and card companies will also allow you to set up email alerts to inform you when you are nearing your due date.

Some consumers may still suffer a black mark on the credit report even if they are current on all of their payments. This is because credit companies may report erred information regarding an individual's bill-paying history. If this happens, victims of a credit reporting mistake may want to contact a credit lawyer to help them investigate and dispute the unfair mark.