Do I have to pay part of the debt? (2023)

Millions of people across the country are struggling to pay their bills. If you are one of them, consider paying a portion, believing that having money is better than not having it, even if it is less than the minimum amount.

While partial payments can help reduce the accrued interest on your debt, lenders usually don't consider it timely payment and may consider your accountStandardIf you make a partial payment, here's what could happen to you and what you can do about it.

the most important point

  • Partial payments may not meet the creditor's minimum payment requirements.
  • Credit bureaus may report your account as missing, which can cause your credit score to drop.
  • Instead of making partial payments, you can agree on an alternative plan with your creditors.

What happens when you only make a partial payment?

In most cases, paying less than the minimum amount on a credit card or loan will not satisfy creditors, who will still consider it a late payment. You could face serious financial consequences until you pay the outstanding balance plus late fees. Because your payment history is 35% of youFICO credit score, your score may drop.

Creditors may also look for other ways to get the money you owe them. Here's what happens to different types of debt when you only make partial payments.

credit card

Partial payments do not meet the minimum payment requirements for your bill unless you have agreed in advance with your credit card company. Even if you pay a little, your account will be delinquent and the card company will report the late payment to the credit bureaus. You may also be charged late fees for sending the debt todebt collection agency, and even sue you if you don't make it.

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car loan

What happens with your car loan depends on your relationship with the lender. If you have never missed a payment before, you may now be willing to accept a partial payment; however, your loan will usually be in default when you are more than 30 days past due. When this happens, the lender can repossess your vehicle.

If you don't settle, the lender can sell your vehicle at auction. In many cases, you still owe the loan even after your car has been repossessed and sold.


If you can't afford to pay the entire mortgage and are only paying a reduced amount, your lender can startforced auctionto heal. However, this usually only starts when you are 120 days behind on your mortgage payments. You can resolve the situation by paying the amount owed before the lender starts foreclosure.

Student loans

If you have student loans, making partial payments won't keep your account from fallingillegalor breach of contract.

If you have federal student loans, the loan becomes delinquent when you fail to make full payments for 270 consecutive days. Default is reported to the credit bureaus and the state has the right to garnish your wages. Plus, it keeps your tax refund as payment.

Please note that federal student loan repayment rules have been temporarily suspended. Most federal student loan payments have been put on hold until the Department of Education gets permission to resume the loan forgiveness program that the White House launched in August 2022. The stay period will last until June 30, 2023, 60 days after the ruling on the lawsuit challenging the program. or 60 days later, whichever comes first.

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Private student loans work differently than federal loans, and the rules are largely at the discretion of the lender. When you miss one payment or pay only part of what you owe, you usually default on the loan. When you don't pay, the private lender can send your debt to a collection agency and sue you for the money you owe.

What to do if you can't pay

If you can't pay in full, the following steps can help you avoid a late or default on your bill:

1. Contact the lender

Contact your creditors as soon as you realize you will miss a payment. Some lenders and card companies offer programs for financial difficulties. Maybe you can come inwithstandAnd defer your payments for a few months or qualify for a temporary grace period.

For example, Discover offers a down payment assistance program to its credit card holders and personal borrowers. The company can help you identify different payment options or delay payments if you lose your job, become ill, or face other financial difficulties.

2. Ask about alternative payment plans

Even if you don't qualify for a hardship program, it's worth asking your creditor if they offer an alternative payment plan that would make paying your bills easier.

For example, federal student loan borrowers can apply for an income-driven repayment (IDR) program. When you enroll in the IDR program, your loan term is extended and your monthly payments are determined as a percentage of your discretionary income. Some borrowers even qualify for $0 down payments, paying nothing and continuing to repay their loans.

The IDR program actually allows you to pay in installments, but you must be approved by the program before you start paying.

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IDR programs generally last 20 to 25 years to allow for long-term exemptions. If you're not looking for this long-term forgiveness, spending a lot of time here can really increase your balance because some plans have negative amortization. If your goal is to pay off debt effectively, consider some hardships, but not a long-term plan.

3. Consolidate your debt

Debt consolidation can provide some relief when your monthly payments are unbearably high. All you need to do is apply for a personal loan from a bank or other reputable lender and use it to pay off your credit card and other debts. Now you only have to pay off one loan. This reduces the amount of debt you have that accrues interest, effectively reducing the total amount of interest you pay. You can also extend the term of the loan, which further reduces monthly fees (but may increase the amount you have to pay in the long run due to increased interest).

If your credit score has dropped due to recent financial problems, addco-signatoryYour application can increase your chancesqualify for a loanat a reasonable price. You can also find a lender to cover your debt:Consolidate your debtShare in a loan, similar to taking out a personal loan to pay off debt.

As a last resort, you should consider prioritizing secured debt (like a car loan) over unsecured debt (like most credit cards).

4. Be strategic

If you have no other options, prioritize the payments you want to make, including debt and other expenses. In general, you should pay for necessities first, such as rent or mortgage, utilities, and food.

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Next, you have to pay anysecured debt, such as a car loan, because if you default, you could lose the property that was used as collateral. Student loans and most credit cards are unsecured debts that tend to have the longest grace periods, so it makes sense to pay them off eventually if you're forced to make a choice.

Will partial payments affect your credit score?

Partial payments can affect your credit score because lenders may consider it a missed or late payment if it falls below the minimum payment amount. This can cause your account to be flagged as delinquent or delinquent, which can negatively affect your credit score.

Is it better to settle the debt or pay in full?

It is always better to pay off your debt in full. Debt settlement is a better option than default; However, settling your debt will show a "settled" status on your credit report, which can negatively impact your debt. However, this condition is not as negative as non-payment of debt.

Can a finance company refuse a partial payment?

Yes, creditors can refuse partial payments because they are not considered fully paid. This allows the creditor to legally charge late fees, add interest, and mark your account as delinquent or delinquent.

The bottom line

Paying part of your bill can help reduce the interest you accrue, but paying in part may not be enough to prevent defaults on your account or negatively affect your credit score.

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You can contact your lender to take action such as deferring or reducing payments, consolidating debt, or strategically deciding which payments to focus on instead of some.


Do I have to pay part of the debt? ›

Partial payments may not satisfy your creditors' minimum payment requirements. Your accounts can be reported as past due to the credit bureaus, causing a drop in your credit score. Rather than make partial payments, you may be able to negotiate an alternative plan with your creditor.

Can a debt collector refuse a partial payment? ›

You need to get your bills paid (and we're here to help you learn how to stop the harassment until you can pay them off). Debt collectors can refuse a payment plan. They're not under any legal requirement to accept smaller payments over a period of time.

What is a partial payment of a debt? ›

Partial payment refers to the offering of a payment by check for less than the full amount claimed by the creditor. Such an offer for debt discharge by tender of a "payment-in-full" check is common practice.

Should I pay off all my debt if I have the money? ›

Generally, it's smart to start funding your emergency savings before paying off debt. But once you have some money in an emergency fund, you may want to start paying down high-interest debt while continuing to fund your savings.

Is a partial payment considered late? ›

Keep in mind, if you aren't able to make the full payment, and only make a partial payment, it generally will be reported as late. Here's how the process generally works: On the account closing date, your statement or bill is generated. Then comes your payment due date, which is shown on your bill or statement.

What happens if I partially settle a debt? ›

Although a partial settlement will still show on your credit file, it will show as being partially satisfied, so over time, if you don't take out more credit and make your payments on time, this will slowly help you re-build your credit score and get better interest rates.

What's the worst a debt collector can do? ›

The worst thing they can do

If you fail to pay it off, the collection agency could file a suit. If you were to fail to show up for your court date, the debt collector could get a summary judgment. If you make an appearance, the collector might still get a judgment.

Will debt collectors settle for half? ›

However, anticipate that the debt collection agency will likely try to double the settlement amount. Most obligations settle between 30%-50% of the original value. If the debt collection agency is unwilling to accept any settlement, you may negotiate a payment plan with them.

Can the creditor be compelled to accept partial payment? ›

When is partial performance of an obligation allowed? As a general rule, the creditor cannot be compelled to accept, and the debtor cannot be required to make, partial payment or performance. (Art. 1248, par.

Is a partial payment better than no payment? ›

Making a partial payment on a debt might seem better than paying nothing at all, but that's not always the case when it comes to your credit score. Some creditors treat partial payments the same way they treat missed or late payments.

How much debt is too much debt? ›

Now that we've defined debt-to-income ratio, let's figure out what yours means. Generally speaking, a good debt-to-income ratio is anything less than or equal to 36%. Meanwhile, any ratio above 43% is considered too high. The biggest piece of your DTI ratio pie is bound to be your monthly mortgage payment.

What debt should you avoid? ›

Generally speaking, try to minimize or avoid debt that is high cost and isn't tax-deductible, such as credit cards and some auto loans. High interest rates will cost you over time. Credit cards are convenient and can be helpful as long as you pay them off every month and aren't accruing interest.

What is the most important debt to pay off? ›

Prioritize Debt With the Highest Interest Rate

You can prioritize your high-interest accounts using the debt avalanche method. It works like this: Make just the minimum monthly payment on all of your accounts except the one with the highest interest rate.

What happens when you make a partial payment? ›

A partial payment can affect your credit score because a lender may regard it as a missed or delayed payment if it's below the minimum payment amount. This could lead to marking your account delinquent or in default, which adversely impacts your credit score.

How many late payments is too much? ›

Anything more than 30 days will likely cause a dip in your credit score that can be as much as 180 points. Here are more details on what to expect based on how late your payment is: Payments less than 30 days late: If you miss your due date but make a payment before it's 30 days past due, you're in luck.

How do partial payments affect credit? ›

Does a partial payment affect your credit score? Partial payments could have a negative impact on your credit score. That's because your creditor may mark the payment as missed or delinquent if you don't at least make the minimum payment.

What if a creditor refuses my offer of payment? ›

If a creditor refuses my offer

Explain your circumstances again and enclose a personal budget. It is a good idea to start making the reduced payments you have offered on a regular basis and point out that you are doing this as a 'gesture of goodwill'.

What happens if you can't pay collections in full? ›

If you ignore a debt in collections, you can be sued and have your bank account or wages garnished or may even lose property like your home. You'll also hurt your credit score. If you aren't paying because you don't have the money, remember that you still have options!

What happens if I only make a partial credit card payment? ›

If you make a partial payment on your credit card balance that satisfies the minimum due, such as $25 or $35, you'll avoid a late fee and penalty APR. However, you'll still incur interest charges, which can add up over time and result in costly debt.


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