What happens if you don’t pay off your credit card?

AffiliatePal is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.



Not paying off your credit card can have serious consequences that can impact your financial well-being. It is important to understand what happens when you don’t pay off your credit card balance to avoid potential pitfalls and financial difficulties.

Consequences of Not Paying Off Your Credit Card

Accruing Interest: One of the immediate consequences of not paying off your credit card balance is the accumulation of interest. Credit card companies charge interest on the unpaid balance, which can quickly add up and make it harder to pay off your debt.

Damage to Credit Score: Failing to make timely payments on your credit card can negatively impact your credit score. Late payments and high credit card balances can lower your credit score, making it more difficult to obtain credit in the future, such as loans or mortgages.

Late Payment Fees: Credit card companies typically charge late payment fees if you fail to make the minimum payment by the due date. These fees can range from a fixed amount to a percentage of the outstanding balance, further increasing your debt.

Collection Calls and Legal Action: If you consistently fail to make payments, your credit card issuer may escalate the matter by sending your account to a collection agency. Collection agencies may start calling you to collect the debt. In extreme cases, the credit card company may take legal action against you to recover the unpaid balance.

Increased Interest Rates: Not paying off your credit card balance can result in increased interest rates. Credit card companies have the right to raise your interest rate if you consistently miss payments or have a high credit utilization ratio. Higher interest rates mean more money paid towards interest and less towards reducing your debt.

Negative Impact on Future Credit Applications: Unpaid credit card debt can make it challenging to obtain credit in the future. Lenders and financial institutions may view you as a higher risk borrower, making it harder to secure loans or credit cards with favorable terms.

Managing Unpaid Credit Card Debt

Communicate with Your Credit Card Issuer: If you are unable to pay off your credit card balance, it is crucial to communicate with your credit card issuer. They may be willing to work out a payment plan or offer other options to help you manage your debt.

Consider Debt Consolidation or Balance Transfer: Debt consolidation or balance transfer can be options to consider if you have multiple credit card debts. These options allow you to combine your debts into one loan with a lower interest rate, making it easier to manage and pay off your debt.

Create a Budget: Developing a budget can help you allocate your income towards paying off your credit card debt. By prioritizing your debt payments and cutting unnecessary expenses, you can make progress towards becoming debt-free.


Failing to pay off your credit card balance can lead to a range of consequences, including accruing interest, damage to your credit score, late payment fees, collection calls, and legal action. It is essential to manage your credit card debt responsibly and communicate with your credit card issuer if you are facing difficulties. By taking proactive steps, such as creating a budget and exploring debt consolidation options, you can work towards paying off your credit card debt and improving your financial situation.


1. creditcards.com
2. bankrate.com
3. consumerfinance.gov