Late payments have the greatest impact on credit scores.

The Deep South houses the city where Americans are late making monthly payments most often.

The residents of Jackson, Mississippi average eight missed payments on their credit reports, says a study from online lender LendingTree. That’s compared to San Jose, California, where locals average less than five.

There is some good news in the study: 95 percent of people in 100 major metros are paying their bills on time. But people are averaging six late payments on their credit report. A late payment is one of the biggest dampers to a credit score. So not making on-time payments can completely crush your credit history.

“An important step to raising and maintaining a healthy credit score is making on-time payments,” says Kali McFadden, senior research analyst at LendingTree. “Since on-time payments account for 35 percent of your FICO score, they can make or break your credit rating.”

Smaller metros have some of the worst offenders

Winston-Salem, N.C. and Scranton, Pa. have the largest percentage of residents who have a delinquent account (both more than 9.5 percent). A delinquent account is when you’ve missed the minimum monthly payment by the due date. This can be as early as a missed payment 30 days late.

While, Jackson, Miss. had the highest average of missed payments, they ranked lower since delinquent accounts averaged less there.

“Your credit score will improve after you can show a record of on-time payments, even if you don’t pay your debt in full,” McFadden says. “Utilization is the second-most important factor in determining your credit score, so it’s also important to keep debt balances low.”

The biggest offenders are in the Northeast and South. The westernmost city is Little Rock, Ark.

Western metros dominate with the most on-time payments

Four out of the top 10 spots going to California metro areas. Washington state had a good turnout as well: Seattle and Spokane tied for fourth place for most on-time payments.

Only one place that isn’t out west made the nice list: Milwaukee (although the city is “Midwest”). What you won’t find on the list is any metro out east or down south.

In Provo, Utah, residents have the lowest percentage of residents with delinquent accounts. But San Jose has the lowest amount of average late payments per person (4.6).

How to avoid late payments on your credit report

If you’re struggling to meet your due dates, there are a few things you can do to help yourself stay on track.

  1. Set up automatic payments. Most of the time, you have different payments throughout the month. If you set up automatic bill pay, you take the worry out of if you’ll meet your deadline. Some lenders and banks might reward you for automatic payments.
  2. Create calendar reminders. Use your phone to your advantage by adding reoccurring calendar reminders to alert you of due dates.
  3. Make mobile payments. If you have the chance to make payments on your phone, you should. You’ll save yourself the hassle and stress of needing to write a physical check or opening your computer. See if your lender or bank has an app to make mobile payments.

Not positive how your credit report works? Check out Debt.com’s page, understanding your credit report.

Don’t let late payments drag your credit score down. Go to Debt.com’s credit repair solutions’ page and maximize your credit score.

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Meet the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn

Writer

Zinn is a freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Budgeting & Saving, Credit & Debt, News

credit report, credit score

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Article last modified on October 1, 2018 Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Which City Ranks Worst in Paying Bills on Time? - AMP.