Often, when money and debt are involved, tensions run high and we forget that ultimately we’re just dealing with people like us. One of the best ways to improve your credit score is to simply explain your situation and ask for a little goodwill by writing a goodwill letter. How does it work?

lady crossing her fingers

Let’s say you have a negative mark on a credit report with an account that has not gone to a collection agency. It might be from a credit card company when you got a couple of months behind on your payments.

If the payment is now up-to-date, you should try simply asking the company to remove the late payment from your credit report. No one is obligated to remove accurate information from your credit score, but companies are eager to satisfy you, their customer. It’s in their best interest to keep you as a customer.

When to Use a Goodwill Letter

There’s no guarantee that a goodwill letter will get the negative item off your credit report; after all, this is not a dispute where you’re challenging the validity of the item. But there are several situations where you’ll have the best chance of receiving a positive response from your creditor.

For example, if you tried to make your payment on time but encountered a technical error (especially if it happened on the creditor’s end), you’re a good candidate for a goodwill letter. Maybe their website was down or the phone line was busy for an unreasonably long time.

You can also try a goodwill letter if your autopay didn’t work for some reason. Even if your bank account had insufficient funds, you could certainly ask and just explain why your funds were low. Perhaps a check took longer to deposit than you expected or you had an emergency expense pop up.

Finally, even if you simply forgot to make the payment, but are otherwise a good customer making timely payments, you could still successfully request a removal through the goodwill letter. Ultimately, you’re still a paying customer and many creditors appreciate the fact that they depend on people like you to keep their businesses running.

How to Write a Goodwill Letter

When writing a letter requesting a negative mark be removed, keep a few things in mind.

  1. Be courteous. Put yourself in the company’s position and ask how you would like to be treated. Remember that the company has provided you with a service and thank them for that.
  2. Acknowledge your fault in the late payments and explain the circumstances that prevented you from making those payments.
  3. If there is a specific reason that you need a good credit rating, such as attempting to get a loan for a house or a much-needed car, include it.
  4. Again, be friendly. Thank them for their time and offer to answer any questions they have.

Using a goodwill letter, thousands of people have been able to have a negative credit mark removed. You have a strong chance of doing the same if your account is no longer past due and if your debt hasn’t been passed on to a collection agency. Just remember the above tips or use a form letter, or let a credit repair company do the work for you.

Goodwill Letter Sample

Note: This sample goodwill letter does not have to be used for a credit card company. It can be used for any negative account on your credit report, but it’s probably best for you to dispute the accounts with the credit reporting agency before attempting a goodwill letter.
[Date]

{Creditor] Attn: {Credit Card Company}
{Credit Card Company Address}

Re: Acct # xxx xxx xxx

Dear Mr./Mrs. CEO/Pres,

I am writing concerning my experience with [company name] that is both a grateful “thank-you” and a pressing request concerning a tradeline in my credit files that I would like to have revised.

I received my [credit card company] on October 22, 2017 and took pride in the fact that all my payments were routinely made in a timely manner. Unfortunately, in [whenever late payment was made], I had a tragic accident and was in the hospital over Christmas. I am the sole provider for our family and was unable to go to work for over a month.

I did use what little vacation and sick time I had to cover our living expenses but needless to say, this left us in an unfavorable position financially. Not only do we have three young children but it was at the hardest time of the year since it was Christmas. Concessions had to be made and regretfully, this led to a late payment on my [credit card company] account.

The loss of income, even though it was a short period of time was a brutal “wake-up” call for me concerning financial responsibility. Since that incident, I have learned the essential organizational and financial management skills I desperately needed at that point and my payment history from October 22, 2017 reflects that. I wish to thank you for your renewed confidence in me and for giving me a second chance at a positive relationship with [credit card company], one that I am determined to keep untarnished.

My wife and I are about to begin the process of purchasing a new home, and it has come to my attention that the late notation from [credit card company] may prevent me from taking full advantage of the best interest rates available. Since that notation does not reflect my current status with [credit card company], I am requesting that you please give me a second chance at a positive credit rating by revising those tradelines. I sincerely hope that there is redemption at [credit card company], and I plead for such consideration.

If any additional documentation would assist in reaching a positive outcome, please feel free to contact me.

I thank you again for the time you have spent reading this correspondence.

Very hopefully yours,

{Your name}

After You Send the Goodwill Letter

Once your goodwill letter is sent in the mail, there’s nothing left to do but wait. You may hear back from your creditor in as little as one to two weeks, which is an optimal situation. However, it may take longer than that, and some may not ever respond.

You can always call customer service to ask about the status of your request after a few weeks of waiting. You can determine how strong your case is by reviewing a few simple points about your account.

First, the creditor considers how long you’ve been a customer. Obviously, if you’ve had a long relationship and have otherwise generally had a positive payment history, your chances are better than being a new customer or making spotty payments.

You’re also more likely to have the delinquency removed if it happened a while ago. That’s because you’ve had time to prove that it was just a one-time occurrence rather than an ongoing financial issue. Finally, if you’ve already requested a goodwill adjustment from the same creditor, particularly within the last two years, you’re less likely to have a new item removed.