No strategy to improve your credit will be effective if you pay late. Why? Payment history is the single biggest factor that affects credit scores, and late payments can stay on your credit reports for seven years. If you miss a payment by 30 days or more, call the creditor immediately. Arrange to pay up if you can and ask if the creditor will consider no longer reporting the missed payment to the credit bureaus. Even if the creditor won’t do that, it’s worth getting current on the account ASAP. Every month an account is marked delinquent hurts your score. Fortunately, the impact of a missed payment fades over time. Showing lots of positive credit behaviors after a misstep can help offset the damage more quickly and eventually improve your credit .If you're simply not able to pay everything on time, know how to prioritize your bills. Look into financial assistance offered in response to the coronavirus pandemic.