When I was fixing my credit, I successfully got a 30-day late payment removed from one of my accounts.
Doing this increased my credit score by 50 points.
I did it by writing a goodwill deletion letter.
Here’s how you can do it too.
What a Goodwill Deletion Letter Can Accomplish
A goodwill letter is a formal request sent to a credit card company, credit union, or another creditor that acknowledges you were late in making a loan payment and asking them to remove the adverse mark from your credit history.
The letter should explain any unusual circumstances or financial hardship that contributed to the late payment.
The goodwill letter may cite difficulties such as a loss of employment, divorce, or a family medical emergency as the reason for the late payment made to the creditor.
Other potential causes for a late or missed payment may include a technical error in a recurring payment (autopay) system or associated with the timing of a change of address process during a move.
The tone, feeling, or sentiment conveyed by a goodwill letter should be pleasant, courteous, and invoke empathy. It might be necessary to have the creditor empathize with your situation because the lender has no obligation to modify your payment history.
A goodwill letter represents an optimistic effort to convince the lender to afford you relief from having this blemish, which otherwise remains on your credit report for seven years.
A goodwill adjustment letter might be also described as a do-it-yourself credit repair effort.
A goodwill adjustment letter should not be confused with a dispute letter that is sent to a credit bureau regarding an error discovered on a credit report.
In these cases, a creditor, loan servicer, or collections agency likely made a mistake involving data sent to a credit reporting agency.
Goodwill Deletion Request Letter Template
A goodwill deletion letter should include the following:
- Your name and address, the date, and the recipients name, department, and address
- Any account or reference numbers
- The late payment date
- Acknowledgement of the late payment and the circumstances that caused it
- Your recently improved credit management practices
- The problem the derogatory information is causing (mortgage, car loan, etc.)
- Request for deletion
- Thanks for consideration/closing salutation
The following outline contains the key elements of a student loan goodwill letter sent to an original creditor regarding a missed payment that is harming the borrower’s credit score.
John A. Smith
222 Main St.
New York, NY 10024
April 15, 2022
Educational Funding Solutions
Credit Agency Reporting Department
3050 Burbank Advertiser Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19101
RE: Credit Account # 10003455
To Whom It May Concern:
Upon reviewing my Transunion credit report, I observed that my missed monthly payment from January 2021 is listed as a negative paid collection entry.
In December 2020, I endured an abrupt loss of employment that was related to devastating financial hardships that the organization experienced resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
My account history indicates that the past due balance was paid as well as the resulting late fee approximately 15 days later. Further, I have since made timely monthly payments and my account remains in good standing.
My purpose in writing is that I have encountered difficulties in securing financing from mortgage lenders, largely the result of a diminished FICO score.
I respectfully request that you make a goodwill adjustment to remove the late payment entry from my credit file.
Thank you for your consideration,
John A. Smith
Do Goodwill Letters Work?
Having success with sending a request to adjust or “delete letter” to a creditor is based on various factors.
A goodwill letter is appropriate and has the greatest likelihood of success when involving a 30-day late payment associated with an account now in good standing.
A goodwill letter is unlikely to result in having a late payment entry removed from your credit report when the past due balance remained outstanding for more than 60 days.
Any accounts that were forwarded to a debt collection agency are not worth pursuing with a goodwill letter.
Keep in mind that providing additional supportive documentation may increase your chances of success. For example, you might include copies of hospital bills or an accident report if the delinquency resulted from a significant medical emergency.
Many creditors maintain a policy of not considering requests for goodwill adjustments.
For example, Bank of America observes an obligation to accurately report all account activity and encourages consumers to offset bad credit report entries by improving their credit using responsible strategies.
Differences of opinion exist regarding whether to send a physical letter through the mail or send it via electronic means such as email. Either way, consider using some “positive persistence” by sending a second letter, email, or making a follow-up phone call.
The timing of a request for an initial goodwill adjustment and/or a follow-up strategy will likely be more effective following several months of timely payments.
Another thought for increasing the likelihood that your request gets attention would be sending the letter via enhanced methods.
For example, sending a letter using Certified Mail requires a recipient’s signature and prices start around $4.00. Sending documents via Priority Mail (pictured) costs at least $8.00, but ensures timely delivery and might be taken more seriously by the recipient.
When to Use a Pay for Delete Letter
Another similar means of removing a negative credit report entry is a pay for delete letter.
A pay for delete letter represents a negotiating tactic that is appropriate for delinquent accounts that have been turned over to a debt collector, such as a third-party collection agency.
Unlike using a credit repair company, a pay for delete letter is sent by the debtor directly expressing a willingness to pay for having negative information removed.
In some cases, a debt collections agency will remove the negative entry in exchange for a negotiated partial payment.
If you agree to enter these agreements with a third-party collector, you should always get a written copy of the agreement from the company to ensure they will actually remove the information from the credit bureau reports.
What Impact Will It Have on My Credit Score?
Credit scores range from 300 to a maximum of 850. It is very difficult to pinpoint the exact increase that will be achieved from the removal of a negative credit entry, but 20 to 60 points are realistic.
Your credit profile is based on a variety of factors, such as outlined in the Experian FICO Score model below.
Factors Influencing Your Credit Score
Payment History (Late Payments)
Amount of Debt (Credit Utilization)
Credit History (Length of Time)
New Credit (Recently Acquired Debt)
Credit Mix (Auto Loans, Credit Cards, etc.)
Overall, those pondering whether to compose a goodwill letter should remember that it could help your financial situation and is worth the effort. Regardless of the outcome, it is unlikely to worsen your situation.
I’m a money nerd, small business owner, and personal finance blogger. After job-hopping and ruining my credit in my early 20s, I decided to get serious about money and my career. Now I have top-tier credit, a successful small business, and am on a path to financial independence.