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The Risk of Sending a Goodwill Letter

Before you send a letter to a creditor asking for a late payment to be deleted for no reason other than “goodwill,” read this.

Before social media was a big part of life, before the pandemic, before the recession, waaay back when more people were truth-tellers and fewer people carried an attitude of entitlement, goodwill letters did work.

A goodwill letter is when you write to a creditor and explain that the reason you were late on a payment was due to some rare and specific hardship, and that you are so sorry and never meant to be late, and that you adore being a customer and would like to continue shopping at their fine establishment, so would they please forgive the late payment and remove it from your credit file? You would be so grateful and the love relationship would then continue. But that doesn’t work anymore.

First off, why would they believe you? Did you include any documentation to prove your story? Maybe a hospital bill and a letter from your employer to show you were laid up and out of work? If not, you’re wasting everyone’s time.

Secondly, the giant national creditors like Capital One, Chase, and Visa are too big to care. You signed an agreement to pay on time, regardless of circumstances — unless you took out a special insurance as protection. Your goodwill letter is one of thousands, and they’re giving every one of them a rubber stamp NO.

Only the rare smaller establishment might consider a goodwill gesture like deleting a late payment from a customer’s history. And for that, you need to locate the right executive to write to, address them politely by name, explain the situation succinctly yet compellingly, and include documentation that verifies your story.


When you send a goodwill request, you are asking for a favor. This means you are verifying that you were indeed late on your payment on that date. If they deny your request, you have nowhere else to go. Your challenge is over, and now you wait out the time for the late payment to age off your report.


The strategy is in the details. If the late payment was posted on the wrong date or the date of the late pay shows on a different month for Experian, Equifax, and Transunion, that is an opportunity to request an investigation and possible deletion.

However, if the isolated late payment is old, don’t be overly concerned. The older it gets, the less it impacts your credit score. Once it is past the 12-month mark, mortgage lenders usually won’t ask about it. If you’ve the account for more than three years, leave it open. Don’t shut it down and don’t delete the entire account. It’s doing you more good than harm.

Analyze why you were late and then create a solution so it won’t happen again. Onward and upward — you’re going to be just fine.

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