You hit a rough financial patch and fell behind on your credit card or loan payments. Since then, you’ve managed to get your finances back on track and bring your accounts current. But there’s one major problem; your credit score is now in the trenches because of the late payments. What’s a consumer to do? Well, you can start by drafting up a goodwill letter to clean up your credit report and bring your credit score back to life. But what is a goodwill letter, and is it really effective?
Read on to learn the answers to these questions and view a sample template to help you write your own letter.
What Are Goodwill Letters?
A goodwill letter is a formal request written by a consumer to a creditor to have a late payment removed from their credit report.
Are Goodwill Letters Effective?
It depends on the creditor and the strength of your letter. Some creditors are more willing to respond and make remove late payments than others. If you have a valid reason for being late, your chances of having success are much higher.
But some creditors aren’t willing to consider goodwill letters at all. However, you won’t know how your creditor will respond if you don’t draft up a letter and send it up. Doing so won’t hurt considering you’re not disputing the item. You’re technically taking responsibility for the late payment and kindly requesting that it be removed out of generosity.
When to Use a Goodwill Letter
Here are some instances where it may be worthwhile to use a goodwill letter:
- You only missed one or two payments but you’ve worked hard to get back on track and haven’t been late since.
- The delinquency resulted from a major life-changing issue, like a major illness or death of a close relative that impacted your finances.
- You’re trying to qualify or get a lower rate on a mortgage loan, and a late payment or two from past financial missteps are holding you back. (This approach only works if you reiterate that you’ve taken the proper steps to clean up your financial act and turn a new leaf).
- You were overwhelmed with life and made an honest mistake by forgetting to remit your payment on time, which is very uncharacteristic of you.
- You didn’t receive the bill in time due to a change of address or mail that wasn’t forwarded.
- A late payment was reported as a technological glitch that you didn’t catch until it was too late.
- Automatic bill-pay from your financial institution failed and the payment wasn’t submitted in a timely manner.
When Not to Use a Goodwill Letter
If the late payment(s) are connected to accounts that are currently delinquent, a goodwill letter isn’t the way to go. Instead, you should focus on working with the creditor to make payment arrangements so you can get the account current and stop the late payments from being reported each month. This will also minimize the damage being done to your credit report.
On the other hand, if the account is current but you have a chronic history of being late on your debt obligations, the creditor will more than likely be reluctant to remove the late payments from your credit report out of goodwill.
Remember, goodwill adjustments are reserved for occasional issues, and not repeat episodes of financial mismanagement that lead to late or missed payments. So, if you fit these criteria, take some time out of your busy schedule to create a spending plan that allows you to cover your expenses and take care of your debts in a timely manner each month.
Writing a Goodwill Letter
Ready to get started with drafting up your goodwill letter? Even if you’re angry about the entire ordeal, take a deep breath and force yourself to get into a good mood. You want the tone of your letter to reflect someone who’s made a mistake and would be grateful if the creditor would be forgiving and lend a helping hand. Otherwise, they will quickly toss your letter into the nearest trash bin and move on.
You also want to refrain from pointing the finger at the creditor. The idea is that you’re taking responsibility for your wrongdoing and trying to make things right.
It’s also a good idea to explain why it’s so important to have the negative payment(s) removed. Are you purchasing a new home? Searching for that dream car? Whatever the reason is behind the letter, be sure to communicate it.
When writing your goodwill letter, include the following:
- Current date
- Creditor’s name and address
- Account number
- Formal request to have the late payment removed
- The reason for the delinquency and your commitment to not letting it happen again
- Any other applicable information (i.e. how the late payment is holding you back from making a big-ticket purchase or achieving a particular financial goal)
What Happens When You Send a Goodwill Letter?
Best case scenario: the creditor agrees that you deserve a second chance and removes the late payment(s) from your credit report with no hesitation. Your credit score improves instantly and you’re back on track.
Worst case scenario: the creditor ignores your request. In this case, don’t lose hope. There’s a possibility that your goodwill letter got lost in the mail and they didn’t receive. Or perhaps they reviewed your letter but it wasn’t convincing enough for them to help you out. The good news is you can always return to the drawing board and beef up the letter that it’ll be more convincing the next time around. It may take several rounds of revisions to convince the creditor to remove the late payment, but your efforts won’t be in vain.
Sample Goodwill Letter
Re: (Account Number)
Dear (Member of Upper Management),
My name is (your name) and I am a proud (customer or account holder) of (creditor’s name). The reason for this letter is to thank you for providing me with exceptional service over the years and express a concern regarding an entry in my credit profile related to my account.
Approximately (insert the number of years) years ago, I opened my (credit card or loan) account with your company and consistently made payments on-time each month. However, I experienced (insert detailed description of the major life-changing event) and was unable to do so during the month of (insert month) 20xx.
As a result, a past-due payment of 30-days was reported to the credit bureaus. Since that time, I have gotten back on track and made all subsequent payments on time. I’ve also taken extra precautions that include creating a detailed budget, minimizing expenses, and creating an emergency fund to ensure that this does not happen again.
Unfortunately, that one negative mark is hurting my credit score and making it extremely difficult to (insert a detailed description of why you would like the negative mark removed). As a result, I am asking that you forgive this financial misstep made by me and grant me the opportunity to get my credit score back on track by revising the late payment noted on my credit report.
It is my hope that you and your team at (insert creditor’s name) will give me a second chance by making this goodwill adjustment on my behalf.
I am extremely grateful that you took time out of your busy schedule to read this letter. Thanks in advance for your assistance concerning this matter.
(insert typewritten name here)