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How to improve credit scores with a goodwill letter

A goodwill letter to the original creditor can result in removal of past due payment marks.

One late payment can result in credit scores decreasing by as much as 100 points. One strategy to remove late payments is a goodwill letter to the creditor that explains why you had a late payment and asks the creditor to take it off your credit reports

What is a Goodwill Letter

A “goodwill letter” is a simple way to rebuild your credit history by asking a creditor restore your credit to good standing by deleting 30-day, 60-day or 90-day late payments from your credit reports. There is no guarantee a goodwill letter will result in the removal of a late payment but it is well worth trying.

What a goodwill letter can and can’t do:

  • Goodwill letters cannot remove inaccurate information from your credit report. If you believe there’s an error, you should file a dispute with the credit bureaus directly.
  • They can potentially remove accurate negative information, such as late payments or charged-off accounts, but only if the creditor is willing to do so as a gesture of goodwill.

Reasons to request a Goodwill Adjustment

Some creditors will delete late payment notations if you’ve been a good customer for several years and are not typically late paying.

In this instance you usually don’t need a particular reason for being late; you may have just overlooked that payment. It can also be used when you think the late payment is an error – for example, online bill payment failed.

Even if you have not been such a good customer send a goodwill letter. A creditor may remove a late payment if you can show a hardship or other good reason for being late.

Factors influencing success:

  • Severity of the negative mark. Smaller infractions like a single late payment might be more receptive to removal than larger issues like collections or repossessions.
  • Your explanation and accountability. Briefly explain the extenuating circumstances that affected your ability to pay on time, (e.g., medical emergency, job loss) that caused the issue and express your regret and commitment to responsible credit management in the future.

Why Creditors might consider extending Goodwill

Banks and lenders are not in the business of opening accounts just to charge them off or lose customers. Their existing customer base provides long term revenue. They want to retain you as a customer and extending goodwill goes a long way in customer retention and avoiding customer attrition.

What Makes a Convincing Goodwill Letter

Financial hardship. Typically, those that have experienced financial hardship due to unexpected circumstances have the most success with goodwill letters.

Take responsibility. Take responsibility for the late payment, and explain why it happened. They need to be able to sympathize with you.

Polite tone. This is not a dispute letter. Making threats and using an angry tone is not for this type of letter. You want to be convincing and honest and have an appreciative tone to your letter.

A good recent payment history. If your creditor sees payments being made on time before and after the period of financial hardship, they might be more willing to grant you goodwill. Make sure you have at least 2-3 months of current on-time payments before you request the creditor grant a goodwill deletion. In other words, don’t request a goodwill deletion directly after missing a payment. Re-establish a good payment record first.

Have a purpose. Aside from just wanting a clean credit report with no negatives, let the creditor know you want to purchase your first home or refinance an existing high interest rate loan. You want to diversify the type of credit on your reports to help your credit scores. You want to add what is considered “good debt” to your reports. Despite recent troubles in the real estate market, homes are generally considered to be good purchases that appreciate in value over time. Your home loan also has tax advantages, as mortgage interest is tax-deductible.

Buying a house. If you are in the market for a mortgage loan, let the creditor know. Respectfully explain to the creditor that the negative tradeline may affect your chances of obtaining the very lowest interest rates now available. Since you have either paid the account in full or restored the account to a current status ask the creditor for a second chance at a positive credit rating.

Proof of any errors and relevant documents. If you’re writing about a mistake that occurred, still be friendly in tone, but back up the errors with documentation. You’ll need proof that what you’re saying is true.

Where to send a Goodwill Letter. A goodwill letter should always be sent to a company executive, such as the CEO, Vice President or Director, this can often lead to a positive outcome. You may have to do a little research to find the names and addresses of officers of the company. A good resource may be Hoovers.com. Always send the letter certified return receipt. Always be persistent. If the first request for a goodwill adjustment does not work — try a 2nd or 3rd request. The below sample should give you an idea of what direction to take with your goodwill letter.

Sample Goodwill Letter

When you have a poor credit history credit cards that are easy can open new financial opportunities in the future, such as getting approved for a loan or a mortgage by using credit responsibly. Here are a few options:

[Creditor Name, Address]

Account Number: [your account number]

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to request a goodwill adjustment to remove a late payment reported on my credit report for my account ending in [last four digits of account number]. The late payment was reported on [date of late payment].

I understand that I am responsible for making my payments on time, and I take full responsibility for the late payment. Unfortunately, [briefly explain the reason for the late payment, but avoid making excuses]. I acknowledge this was a mistake and apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused./p>

Since the late payment, I have consistently made all my payments on time. I have a history of responsible credit card use with your company, as evidenced by my [positive aspects of your credit history, e.g., on-time payments for the past X years, maintaining a low credit utilization ratio].

I am currently in the process of [explain why the late payment removal is important, e.g., applying for a mortgage, car loan, etc.]. Having this late payment on my report could negatively impact my ability to qualify for [explain the consequences, e.g., favorable interest rates, loan approval].

I kindly request that you consider removing the late payment from my credit report as a goodwill gesture. I am confident that I have demonstrated a strong commitment to responsible credit management moving forward.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely, [Your Signature] (if submitting a physical letter)
[Your Typed Name]
[Enclosures: Proof of explanation if applicable (optional)]

Please note: This is just a sample and you should personalize it with your specific details and situation. It’s crucial to be honest, professional, and concise in your explanation. Remember, there’s no guarantee of success, but a well-written letter can increase your chances of a positive outcome.

Final thoughts

Success is not guaranteed and creditors are under no obligation to grant your request. If a goodwill letter doesn’t work, you can explore other credit fix strategies, such as disputing errors or a professional credit repair company.

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