Unable to pay this month’s credit card bill? Don’t worry; it happens to the best of us. Given the current pandemic situation and job losses, millions of individuals are facing severe financial distress resulting in unpaid bills and uncleared EMIs. 

Unpaid credit card bills can result in late payment fees, increased interest rates, and severe damage to your credit score. If you are unable to pay your credit card bills for more than 90 days, they freeze your credit card and turn in your account to collection agencies. That is not going to be a pleasant experience and we would want to avoid it at all costs. 

What happens if you don't pay your credit card bill?

If you don't pay your credit card account on time, you'll be charged late penalties, your interest rate will rise, and your credit score will suffer. If you keep missing payments, your card may be frozen, your debt may be transferred to a collection agency, and the debt collector may sue you and seize your assets.

Number of times you have missed payments

What happens?

One to two missed payments

  • Late fees
  • Loss of initially offered APR
  • Damage to credit score

Three missed payments

  • Late fees
  • Increased damage to credit score
  • Closed credit card account

More than three missed payments

  • Late fee
  • Substantial damage to credit score
  • Debt sold to a collection agency
  • Lawsuit


Additional Read: How Much Does Missing A Credit Card Payment Affect Credit Score

So, what are the options left if you can’t pay your credit card bill? Let’s have a look; 

1. Paying the Minimum Due Amount: Even if you can’t pay the entire amount, you can try and pay the minimum amount due; Credit cards have the option of paying just the minimum amount due to keep the card operational. Paying the minimum amount due will also reduce your interest burden. This will keep your credit score from dropping. A low credit score will make it difficult for you to get loans in the future. If you don't make the minimum payment, you'll be charged late fees.

2. Talk to your bank; they are the best people to help you: If you think you can’t make the minimum payment either, pick the phone and talk to your bank. Discuss with your bank to see if you can work anything out or if the due date may be pushed back. Banks are more than eager to assist you with a temporary circumstance if you have a good repayment history. 

3. Stop using your credit card: This must be the simplest and most logical thing to do. If you are already struggling to pay your credit card bills, you should refrain from using it and mount more bills. Making more purchases, without paying your bills, will add to the total outstanding on your credit card. Note that the interest is charged on your total outstanding which is going to be a huge amount. It is better to stop using your credit card, clear off all the dues and start using it again. 

4. Opt for Balance Transfer: A balance transfer is a debt management strategy that allows you to move your existing credit card debt to a new account with a lower interest rate. In theory, you'll be given a new credit card with the same balance but a cheaper interest rate. Some lenders even offer 0% interest for the first few months to help you pay off your debt faster and for less money. Balance transfers allow you to consolidate your debt and pay it off before it becomes too much to bear.

5. Get a personal loan to pay off your credit card debt: Another option is to get a personal loan to pay off your credit card bills. Personal loans come with a lower interest rate compared to credit cards and also give you an EMI option to pay back in instalments. This will reduce your overall interest outflow and close down your credit card bill quickly. 

Simple Tips To Avoid Getting Trapped In A Credit Card Debt

If not used properly, credit cards can become debt traps. You may become smitten with your credit limit and spend more than you can afford to repay the next month. This leads to payment defaults and interest accruals, which can quickly balloon into massive debt in a matter of months. To avoid such bad situations, we should use credit cards responsibly and budget our payments carefully.

1. Track all your credit card dues: This may seem like a very simple thing to do, but it is very effective. When you are tracking all your credit card dues and the due dates, you are able to budget your monthly finances better.

2. Pay off the high-interest rate cards first: Since you have already made a list of all your credit cards and the outstanding on them, it is easier for you to determine which card is proving to be very costly for you. Choose the one that is accruing the highest interest amount and pay it off first. This way, your interest burden is reduced and you get some breathing space to pay off the rest.

3. Convert payments to EMI: Credit cards offer EMI options to pay off your outstanding amount. These EMIs will come with a relatively lower rate of interest than your APR with a fixed tenure that will allow you to plan well and clear off the dues. This way, you will be able to reduce a considerable chunk of your total outstanding.

Additional Reading: ‘7 Simple Tips For Getting Out Of Debt’!


A credit card debt is a high-risk debt. It can lead to some really unpleasant circumstances if not handled carefully. Make sure you have a well-organized debt management system in place to ensure that you pay all of your monthly EMIs and credit card bills on time. 

Never borrow more than you can afford to repay. If you find yourself unable to manage your credit card debt, contact your credit card provider as soon as possible. Speak with them and figure out what you can do to pull yourself out of this predicament. Negotiate a debt settlement deal with them if necessary. Don't be afraid to seek the assistance of a debt management professional.


  1. What are the consequences of not paying your credit card bill?

If you miss your credit card payment, you have to pay late payment charges and additional interest charges on the total outstanding. 

  1. Can my credit card company give me some relief with the bill payments?

Yes, your credit card company can definitely give you alternate options to repay your credit card bill. You should talk to them to find out. 

  1. Will I be sent to jail for not paying my credit card bill? 

You won't go to jail if you don't pay your credit card payments because it's not a criminal offence. They could take legal action in a court of law for failure to pay a credit card bill, and a civil complaint might be filed. And your name will be added to the list of credit card defaulters.

  1. How long will unpaid credit card bills stay on your credit report?

Unpaid bills or defaults will stay for a total of 7 years on your credit report. 

  1. Can I avail a moratorium on my credit card bill?

During the current Corona pandemic situation, many credit card companies are offering moratorium options for credit card bills. Contact your credit card company to know more about it.