Remove Late Payments from Your Credit With a Goodwill Letter

Remove Late Payments from Your Credit With a Goodwill Letter

A “goodwill letter” can be an effective way to improve your credit score. However, it needs to be done the right way to have a chance. When you write a goodwill letter, you are essentially asking a creditor for a “break” on a reported delinquency.

The most important thing to remember when writing a goodwill letter is that YOU are ultimately responsible for the delinquency that’s stinking up your credit report. This is not a time to lash out at the creditor or blame anyone else.

In order to have a chance for success, a goodwill letter needs to cite relevant facts. Do so in a way that can appeal emotionally to the creditor. It’s not enough to present the facts and color them with contexts. You need to tell a story.

I have written several goodwill letters, and I’ve found them to be well worth my time and effort. That was the case more often than not. In order to increase your odds of obtaining a goodwill adjustment from a creditor that reported you for a late payment, allow me to guide you through some answers to the following useful questions:

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When Should I Write a Goodwill Letter?

I think it’s always a good idea to send a goodwill letter anytime you have a late payment blemish on your credit report. That is because there’s no real downside other than a small investment of time and/or resources.

The upside, however, is significant. A goodwill adjustment, if granted, can add several points to your credit score.

I would advise giving priority to any reported delinquencies that you can most readily “build a case for.” For example, if you have several reported delinquencies on your student loan account, but only one delinquency on your credit card account that you’ve had for 8 years, you are far more likely to reach a successful outcome with the credit card account.

Don’t be discouraged by certain creditors, like Bank of America, who claim they “aren’t able to honor requests for goodwill adjustments” because the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires them “to report complete and accurate information” to the credit bureaus. A quick search of the internet shows that people have had success writing goodwill letters to Bank of America. That is just another reason I always recommend trying.

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What are the Key Components of a Goodwill Letter?

It’s important to craft an emotional plea that will get the attention of the lender. That will compel them to take favorable action. They know there is value in making customers happy. If they think it can benefit them, they may be able to find some sort of technicality. That could justify making a goodwill adjustment.

I always make sure my goodwill letters adhere to a specific formula. The late Stephen Covey famously advised to “begin with the end in mind,” and in this case the “end” is earning an act of forgiveness from a creditor. That’s an important consideration as you construct the letter.

I’m going to end the letter with a humble request for forgiveness. So I prefer to start with something friendly and complimentary to put the reader at ease. That will set a positive tone.

If I’ve enjoyed a long and otherwise successful relationship with the company, I’m always sure to mention that up front. You should always include any and all evidence that can support the narrative that you have a strong track record of being reliable and responsible. In addition, it will illustrate the fact that this was a one-time only instance that you are not likely to repeat.

After the pleasantries, I describe the reason for the letter. I accept full responsibility for the error. This is the time to be humble and own your mistake.

Explain any circumstances that contributed to the late payment. Show equal parts remorse for what happened and determination to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Be specific with any steps you will take to prevent future occurrences if possible.

The final part of the letter is where you go for the close. Just acknowledge that you make mistakes. Show (don’t tell) how you learned from past mistakes. Ask for the goodwill adjustment, and thank them for their consideration.

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What Does a Goodwill Letter Look Like?

Now that you know the key ingredients of a goodwill letter, it’s time to put your thoughts on paper. If you’re wondering how best to structure those thoughts, I’m pleased to share a sample goodwill letter that addresses a late payment for a credit card:



<Phone #>

<Creditor Name>

<Creditor Address>


RE: Regarding a Reported Delinquency

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Rick Miller, and my account number is XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX. I have been a satisfied customer of [creditor name] for [number of] years.

Your outstanding customer service is the reason I’ve remained a loyal customer. I’ve always considered it a priority to make all my payments on time. Unfortunately, I fell short of my own standards earlier this year. I was over a month late with a payment.

I had been carrying a sizable balance for several months. Then, I finally paid off the full balance in February of this year. When I received my statements in March and April, I simply discarded them without even opening them because I assumed they would show a zero balance with no payment due. It never occurred to me that there would be a finance charge from the last month that carried a large balance.

I realize in retrospect that I should have anticipated that finance charge. I wish I had taken a moment to just open and read those statements. That was a big mistake, and I can assure you it won’t happen again. From now on, I will always open every piece of mail that I receive from you. I recently opted in to email alerts just to provide an added layer of redundancy.

Your records will show that I had never been late with a payment until this unfortunate oversight. I have been prompt with the past two monthly payments since getting caught up.

As a long-time customer in good standing, I respectfully request that you apply a goodwill adjustment to remove the late payment from my file.

Thank you very much for your consideration,


<Printed Name>

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What Makes a Goodwill Letter Great?

An effective goodwill letter will include all the key components we discussed earlier. They will flow logically from start to finish. The introduction should be an effort to establish a friendly and familiar connection:

  • appreciate the quality products and services they provide
  • value the relationship

In the body of the letter, you should include the relevant facts in context using a relatable story:

  • paid the balance in full, but did not anticipate a finance charge
  • did not check the statements due to inaccurate assumptions about the recent payoff

As you prepare to ask for the goodwill adjustment, highlight any mitigating facts that you think they should consider:

  • was the first late payment on record
  • reestablished timely payments in a reliable and responsible manner

Take Ownership of Your Mistake

Remember to take ownership of your mistake. Provide any evidence you can think of to support the notion that this was a one-time incident and is not likely to happen again. Show (don’t tell) them that you learned from your mistake.

Avoid faxes and email. Put the letter on professional-grade paper with letterhead if possible, and send it through snail mail. This conveys an image of professionalism and makes it clear that you really care about making things right.

If you don’t believe you’re much of a writer or if you’re having trouble thinking through how to make your case, you may want to consider seeking the help of a reputable credit repair company. They have experts who know what strategies work best with various industries, and in some cases, even specific companies. I used one the first time I wrote a goodwill letter, and I was very pleased with the outcome.

Always remember, it’s worth a try. Even if you don’t think you have much of a case, it can’t hurt to give it a shot. You’ve likely been told that showing up is half the battle, and in this case, all you have to do in order to show up is write a letter.

It might work, it might not work. Either way, if you take the time to craft and send a goodwill letter, you’ll feel better about your situation because you’ll know that you’ve done everything in your power to positively impact your financial health.

Rick Miller

About Rick Miller

Rick is a former US Army Aviator, West Point graduate, and Darden MBA. He owns and operates a successful Real Estate Investment firm, and he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children in Hartford, CT.

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19 thoughts on “Remove Late Payments from Your Credit With a Goodwill Letter

  1. Thanks so much for this. I was going over my credit and found I had 1 late payment on a credit card from 2018. Otherwise, it’s all good. So I’m confident this will be the strongest move. Really appreciate it.

  2. I wrote a goodwill letter for 2 of my Capital One account and they took off 4 months of late payments it works if you put in the effort

  3. Goodwill letter worked for me. Sent to Wells Fargo, had to send multiple times via email, calling and writing. I looked up CEOs, VPs etc etc and sent another email last week. Got a call back next day that the executive board was investigating and a follow up would come by Tuesday. Received a call Monday that they would suppress the late payments, checked today (Wednesday)…. lates removed from all credit bureaus. I never had any other lates. I left an abusive marriage and once the judge made ex put the house up for sale he stopped paying the mortgage a year after I moved out. I sent all the proof I could send of good past credit history, decree from judge and the lease where I moved to. Was told no 4 times but kept trying. Took less than a month to get resolved. Keep trying. DON’T GIVE UP! Especially for special circumstances beyond your control.

    1. Estelle if you don’t mind could you give me the best contact emails on who exactly responded to you. This just recently happened to me today with Wells Fargo which is why I’m on the web researching. I’ve never been late the whole 4 years I’ve been with them and had plans on making a large purchase next month. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

      1. I would like the same info please. I have Wellsfargo for my mortgage. I was working overseas and has issues with my banks bill payer. Thank you

  4. I did this for my husband a couple of years ago right after we got married. He had missed a payment on his Capital One credit card when his grandmother passed away (he was very close with them and took some time off to be with his Grandfather). I wrote a letter and finally spoke with someone on the phone who said if I could show evidence of the circumstances then they’d remove the payment. Long story short I tracked down and sent medical records, the death certificate and evidence of his hardship and sent it in as promised. Then a customer service rep called me and said “sorry, we don’t do goodwill gestures”. I argued that we had made a deal and I was promised something in exchange for my consideration in the form of providing records. The fact that I went to such efforts to provide my consideration meant that they were compelled to perform their agreed consideration or be in breach of contract. They removed the late payment promptly. I had to write numerous letters to multiple departments including the CEO but my point is: it’s truly worth doing. His credit went up about 90 points.

  5. One late payment, 3 years ago. If a goodwill / forgiveness letter is accepted by a creditor, how long before your credit score is updated?

  6. I had an account with Identity which was in arrears for more than a year or so. Due to unemployment, the account resulted into bad standing. The account was closed, on credit bureau with the arrears. Earlier this year I settled the account to the last cent with the collection agency, and I requested a settlement letter, which I got. But the account still reflects on my credit records. I want to know, what can I do to get the account removed or disputed from my credit record as it affects my credit standing?

    1. Hello Yekani.

      My name is Anwar and after reading your beyond control credit situation with the settled account, thought to gain more valuable steps that you may have taken as your follow up? and were there a resolution of the effort? since my credit situation is very similar.
      Who you think eventually was able to help with credit bureau errors?

      Became victim of a third party ‘Credit repair’ scam, and ended up in the worst situation than before!
      Appreciate your kind reply – And thanks in advance.


  7. I have a question please. I had a one time late payment over a year ago in April of 2017 with my mortgage company. This occurred about a month and a half after I had major surgery in February 2017 and was trying to get my finances back in order. I never had any late payments before. I would like to send a Goodwill Letter to them but don’t know exactly to which department. How do I find out which department or person to send it? Also Thank You for your wonderful Goodwill Template.

  8. Great article! I just read on a different site that goodwill letters are not accepted any longer… is this true or has something changed? Either or, I’m using your template and will be sending mine monday.

    1. That is not true. People are still sending them out and receiving a response whether negative or positive. Some companies make the adjustment and some don’t. It does not hurt to try.

  9. I was set up on auto payment with US bank and the system failed to draft a payment, which made me late. I did dispute the late entry on my credit report due to the bank’s error to no avail. I sent out a goodwill letter today, I will let you know how it goes. Thank you for the information.

    1. Hello Dear Davis,

      Following with you on your credit resolution effort using goodwill reconciliation, did anyone respond toward your inquiry?


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