How to Write a Goodwill Deletion Letter (Plus Template)

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My parents were in the middle of a long, drawn-out divorce when I left for college. My tuition got tied up in the legal battle. This led to a lot of confusion and ended with me leaving school early, holding a $10,000 overdue bill for tuition, room and board.

Over the course of six months, I paid off the entire balance. But even though the debt was paid off quickly, it still showed up on my credit report.

A few years later, I had a good credit score overall. But I was saving to purchase a home and wanted my score to be as high as possible so I’d qualify for a good mortgage rate. The tuition bill was the only negative line item.

That’s when someone suggested I try a goodwill letter, also called a goodwill deletion letter, to repair my credit.

What Is a Goodwill Deletion Letter?

A goodwill letter is a way to get accurate, negative line items removed from your credit report. The creditor who reports the negative line item has the power to remove it. So your goal is to write your creditor a letter that persuades them to do just that.

When a negative line item is removed from your credit report, it will likely make your credit score bump up. A higher credit score can improve your chances of getting approved for a loan, credit card, mortgage or even certain employment positions.

It’s important to note that if you find an error on your credit report, you shouldn’t write a goodwill letter. Inaccurate information can be disputed and then removed, which is an entirely different process.

How to Write a Successful Goodwill Letter

Most of the time, goodwill letters are not successful.

Mine was.

Here are the steps I took to draft a successful goodwill deletion letter.

Be specific.

Your creditor likely only knows you as a number. The first thing you should address in your letter are the specifics of your situation. Be sure to include things like:

  • Your account number
  • Total amount of debt
  • When the debt was due
  • The date you paid off the debt in full

In my situation, I knew paying off $10,000 in six months was impressive given my income, so I stressed this aspect of the repayment. If you have similar circumstances, be sure to highlight them.

Explain your situation.

Goodwill letters are most successful when you went through an extraordinary circumstance and explain it. If your excuse is, ‘I knew I couldn’t afford to max out my credit card, but I just really wanted the new iPhone,’ you’re probably not going to be successful.

Extraordinary circumstances are things like divorce, job loss, natural disasters, domestic violence or economic abuse or unexpected medical emergencies.

In my situation, I explained why there was confusion around who would pay the bill, again stressing that once it became clear it was my responsibility I paid it off quickly.

Express regret.

At this point in your goodwill letter, you’re going to want to express regret for your late payments. You had every intention of paying on time — before that extraordinary circumstance popped up.

If you otherwise have a positive payment history with the company, you can bring that up here, too. Anything you can do to demonstrate financial responsibility helps.

Explain why you want the item removed.

Next, give a reason for wanting this line item removed. For example, maybe you need to purchase a car so you can get to work. But with the negative line item on your report, you can’t secure a car note at a reasonable APR.

By laying this out for your creditor, you’re letting them see how their help can change your life in tangible ways.

You can wrap up your letter by saying something along the lines of, ‘I hope you will consider removing this collection from my credit report as a gesture of goodwill,’ and thanking them for their consideration.

Provide supporting documentation.

If you have any documents supporting the claims in your letters, include them. For instance, if you lived through a natural disaster, any paperwork you can provide from FEMA or your insurance company may prove helpful.

You’ll also want to include a succinct record of your payments, including receipts or statements issued by the creditor.

In my case, I included a receipt of all payments and a printout of my financial record directly from the school’s website.

How Will I Know if I’m Successful?

I knew my school had removed the late payment from my credit report because they sent me a letter telling me they had. Your creditor may or may not notify you in the same way.

I followed up when I did my annual credit report check the next year. Sure enough, the late payment was removed from my report.

What if My Goodwill Letter Is Rejected?

Your creditor is not obligated to remove accurate, negative line items from your credit report. You’re asking them to do it out of the kindness of their heart. Even after carefully composing my letter and making a good case, in the end I was lucky. Most goodwill letters are rejected.

If your goodwill letter doesn’t work, you’ll simply have to deal with the negative line item until it falls off your credit report, which typically happens after no more than seven years.

But if putting in the time to craft a compelling, one-page letter gives you a shot at changing your financial life years ahead of schedule, why not give it a try?

Goodwill Deletion Letter Template

This goodwill deletion letter template is designed to be adaptable to various circumstances. Be sure to personalize it with your specific details and circumstances to make a compelling case for a goodwill adjustment to your credit report.

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State, ZIP Code]
[Phone Number]
[Email Address]

[Creditor’s Name]
[Creditor’s Address]
[City, State, ZIP Code]

Subject: Request for Goodwill Adjustment – Account #[Your Account Number]

Dear [Creditor’s Name or Specific Department if applicable],

I hope this message finds you well. My name is [Your Name], and I am reaching out to request your consideration for a goodwill adjustment on my account #[Your Account Number]. Specifically, I am seeking the removal of a negative entry on my credit report related to this account.

During the time of the reported late payment(s), I encountered a challenging period due to [briefly describe the extraordinary circumstances, e.g., “a sudden job loss,” “a family emergency,” “a medical situation,” etc.]. These circumstances were unexpected and significantly impacted my financial situation, leading to the unfortunate oversight on my account.

Despite this, I have taken earnest measures to address the situation by [describe what you did to remedy the situation, e.g., “paying the outstanding balance as quickly as possible,” “consistently meeting financial obligations since that time,” etc.]. My commitment to resolving the issue demonstrates my dedication to financial responsibility and my sincere regret for any inconvenience caused.

The presence of this negative entry on my credit report is notably affecting my current financial goals, including [state your reason, e.g., “purchasing a home,” “securing a lower interest rate on a loan,” etc.]. The removal of this mark would greatly assist in improving my financial standing and achieving my objectives.

I have attached [mention any supporting documents you are including, such as payment receipts, letters from employers, medical records, etc.] to provide context and substantiate my situation during the period in question.

I understand that you are under no obligation to grant this request, but I sincerely hope for your understanding and leniency in this matter. A goodwill adjustment to remove this entry would not only reflect positively on my credit report but also significantly impact my financial future.

Thank you very much for considering my request. I appreciate your time and understanding and look forward to any possibility of resolving this matter favorably.


[Your Name]

FAQ: Goodwill Deletion Letters for Credit Repair

How do goodwill deletion letters work to improve my credit score?
When a creditor agrees to remove a negative entry from your credit report as a gesture of goodwill, it can positively affect your credit score. Since your credit score is a reflection of your credit history, removing negative entries can lead to improvements, making you more attractive to lenders.

Can anyone write a goodwill adjustment letter?
Yes, anyone who has a negative entry on their credit report due to extraordinary circumstances and has otherwise maintained a good payment history can write a goodwill letter. It’s particularly useful for those looking to clean up their credit reports for future financial opportunities.

What happens if my goodwill letter is rejected?
If your goodwill letter is rejected, the negative item will remain on your credit report until it naturally expires. However, continuing to build a positive credit history and practicing good financial habits can help mitigate the impact over time.

How often can I check my credit report for free?
You’re entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—every 12 months through However, due to special circumstances, like the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be able to check it more frequently for free.

Can writing a goodwill letter affect my credit negatively?
Writing a goodwill letter itself does not affect your credit score. It’s a request for leniency based on past circumstances and does not reflect current financial behavior or obligations.

What’s the difference between a goodwill letter and a credit repair service?
A goodwill letter is a DIY approach where you directly contact creditors to request the removal of negative marks due to extenuating circumstances. In contrast, credit repair services are third-party companies that attempt to improve your credit score by disputing inaccuracies and negotiating with creditors on your behalf, often for a fee.

How long does it take for a goodwill letter to affect my credit report?
The time it takes can vary widely. If a creditor agrees to your request, they will update your information with the credit bureaus. It may take a few weeks to a couple of months for the change to reflect on your credit report, depending on the creditor’s reporting cycle and the bureaus’ update processes.

Can goodwill letters remove late payments from all types of credit accounts?
Goodwill letters can be used to request the removal of late payments from various types of accounts, including credit cards, student loans, auto loans, and mortgages. The success of these requests largely depends on your relationship with the creditor and your history of payments.

Is it better to send a goodwill letter via email or postal mail?
While email may seem faster and more convenient, sending a goodwill letter via postal mail is often recommended. This method ensures a tangible record of your communication and can sometimes be taken more seriously by creditors. Always send it via certified mail so you can confirm receipt.

What role does consumer financial protection play in goodwill letters?
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) offers guidelines and protections for consumers dealing with credit issues. While the CFPB doesn’t directly intervene in goodwill letter requests, being informed about your rights can help you craft a more persuasive letter and understand your options if you face financial discrepancies or disputes.

How can I ensure my goodwill letter stands out to creditors?
Personalizing your letter, providing a clear and honest account of your situation, and expressing sincere regret for any late payments can make your letter more compelling. Including evidence of your hardship, such as medical bills or a job layoff notice, and highlighting your positive payment history elsewhere can also strengthen your case.

What are some tips for maintaining a good credit score after a goodwill letter success?
After a goodwill letter has successfully removed negative marks, maintain your improved credit score by paying all bills on time, keeping credit card balances low, avoiding new debt obligations, and regularly monitoring your credit report to catch and address any inaccuracies promptly.

Can I use a template for my goodwill letter?
While templates can provide a good starting point, it’s crucial to customize your letter to reflect your unique situation. Creditors receive many requests, and a personalized letter that tells your specific story will be more impactful.

Brynne Conroy is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.