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Can I Keep A Credit Card If I File Bankruptcy?

August 8, 2011

Many bankruptcy debtors need a credit card for work. Whether it is necessary for business purchases or travel, it is common for a debtor to ask, “Can I keep one of my credit cards?”


The answer to this question depends on a few circumstances. First, is there a balance on the card? If your card balance is zero on the day that you file your bankruptcy, then the credit card company is not a “creditor” for bankruptcy purposes, and you do not have to list the card as a debt in your bankruptcy schedules. Consequently, the credit card company will not receive notice of your bankruptcy case.


Before you pay down your credit card debt, be advised that substantial payments to creditors shortly before filing bankruptcy could cause a serious problem. Large payments to a creditor within 90 days of your bankruptcy filing may be avoided by the bankruptcy trustee. The trustee could compel the turnover of money paid to your credit card company and then divide it between all unsecured creditors (after the trustee takes a cut, of course). If you are considering a bankruptcy filing, speak to an experienced bankruptcy attorney before making large payments to any creditor.


The second circumstance to consider is, will the credit card company find out about your bankruptcy filing and cancel your card? Credit card companies perform periodic credit checks of customers to minimize risk. You may be able to keep your pre-bankruptcy credit card for a time, but then discover your card has been cancelled at an inconvenient time.

Finally, what type of bankruptcy case are you filing? In a Chapter 13 case, the debtor is prohibited from incurring any new debt without the approval of the trustee and bankruptcy court. Using credit during a Chapter 13 case can land you in trouble with the court, and your case could be dismissed.


Keeping a credit card after bankruptcy is often tricky business. Fortunately, many Chapter 7 debtors receive credit card offers soon after discharge, in some cases from the same companies they recently discharged. The usual advice is to discharge all of your unsecured creditors. If you need a credit card for work, apply for a new card or open a secured credit card account.


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