When your financial situation is overwhelming, you may consider filing for bankruptcy. One of your worries might be what would happen to your credit cards should you pursue bankruptcy. That’s a legitimate concern; you may well lose access to your credit cards. Then the question becomes whether filing bankruptcy would bring more benefits than the detriment of losing your current credit cards. In this post, we’ll explore what happens with credit cards when you pursue bankruptcy.
What Kind of Debt Is it?
Credit cards are unsecured debt. Unsecured debt refers to any kind of debt that is taken on to buy everyday goods and services. Credit cards issued by banks or other financial institutions, department store cards, gas cards–all are examples of revolving credit. It is unsecured because you haven’t had to offer any kind of collateral in order to get it. Unlike your auto loan, where the vehicle itself functions as the collateral, credit card companies offer you short-term loans that you agree to repay with the stated interest. You can pay for your groceries with your credit card just like you can buy a computer with your credit card. In either case, the credit card company cannot come and take the food out of your refrigerator, or the computer off your desk. Since there is no collateral with credit cards, there can be no repossession.
Credit Card Interest
Because credit cards are actually short term loans, they charge a high rate of interest. In the first 3 months of 2022, Americans’ credit card balances reached $841 billion, and the average credit card interest rate is 21.33%. Department store interest rates are even higher. So there is a lot of money in play. If you pay your minimum amount due every month, you’re paying only the interest and are locking yourself into perpetual, costly debt. Wisconsinites have an average of $4587 on their credit cards. That means that if you want to pay off the entire amount in 6 months, you have to make monthly payments of over $800. If all of this sounds discouraging, you’re not alone.
Credit Card Debt and Chapter 7
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is called Liquidation Bankruptcy, but don’t let that name scare you off. While it is designed to repay a portion of your debts through the sale of your assets, there are exemptions, and the experts at Burr Law can make sure your car and your home remain yours. The truth is that using exemptions to their fullest, you can completely eliminate your credit card debt while keeping your most valuable possessions. There is no minimum or maximum amount of debt needed to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. There is an income status requirement, though. Your income needs to be equal to or below Wisconsin’s median income, $64,168. If you are close to or slightly over that number, the professionals at Burr Law can help with timing or calculation to make Chapter 7 work for you.
Credit Card Debt and Chapter 13
Chapter 13 bankruptcy functions more like a reorganization. A trustee assigned by the bankruptcy court draws up a plan whereby you repay a portion of your debts over the course of 3 to 5 years. Your creditors then need to agree to the plan, and the bankruptcy court approves it. Credit card debt is often, but not always, eliminated. Even when it is not entirely written off, you will end up having to repay only a small portion of your credit card debt. With this type of bankruptcy, you will retain your car and your house as well. There is no income status requirement, though there is a maximum debt level. To be eligible to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must have no more than $419,275 in unsecured debt and no more than $1,257,850 in secured debt, which includes mortgages and car loans.
Basically, if most (or all) of your crippling debt is credit card debt, you might find that it’s worth it to lose access to your current credit cards and get rid of that debt. The best course of action is to contact the experts at Burr Law. They can listen to your specific situation and guide you to the best decision.