Declaring Bankruptcy Can Improve Your Credit Score

By Aleksandra Todorova January 22, 2007

THE DECISION OF whether to file for bankruptcy protection is not an easy one. Among the numerous concerns, one that is typically front and center is the worry that your credit rating will be so damaged that securing a loan — even at a lousy rate — will be darn near impossible.

But here’s some surprising news: In many cases, the damage done to one’s credit score isn’t nearly as bad as expected. Over the long run, obtaining a score high enough to make you eligible for very competitive rates isn’t out of the question.

The Agenda: Debt

Part of the reason why your score isn’t likely to suffer all that much is that most folks seriously struggling with debt aren’t exactly maintaining a top-notch score to begin with. “In virtually every instance, the consumer will already have repayment problems such as late payments, very high balances, charged-off accounts or collection accounts,” says Rod Griffin, a spokesman for Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus.

In light of this, some consumers may even see a slight boost in their credit scores after filing bankruptcy, according to John Ulzheimer, president of Credit.com Educational Services, a consumer credit education group. Why? To start with, your credit report is largely wiped clean when you declare bankruptcy. Your high balances are removed as are any late payments or records of unpaid debts. Instead, the accounts included in the bankruptcy will be marked as “Included in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy” or “Included in Chapter 13 Wage Earner Plan,” depending on which type of bankruptcy you filed. Both types of bankruptcy affect your credit score in the same way, according to Ulzheimer. Granted, you aren’t likely to see a big jump — but if you’ve just been scraping by, your score isn’t likely to fall much further.

That said, a bankruptcy could help your score over the long term, as well. Here’s why: When calculating scores, the formulas developed by Fair Isaac (the company that calculates the most widely used credit score, known as the FICO score) are set up to grade someone’s credit standing as compared with that of consumers in a similar financial position. To do that, Fair Isaac divides consumers into 10 groups, using what it calls “score cards.” It then ranks the consumers in each group based on the others in the group. One of these score cards is bankruptcy filers. (For competitive reasons, Fair Isaac doesn’t release what constitutes all 10 groups.)

In other words, when you file bankruptcy your score is determined based on how you do compared with other bankruptcy filers, explains Fair Isaac spokesman Craig Watts. The reason? Fair Isaac has found this to predict credit risk better. “It’s a much fairer comparison,” he says. “You’re not compared with people with rosy, perfect reports.”

As a result, credit scores can run the gamut among bankruptcy filers. “In that population, you’ll find some consumers who have very good FICO scores, some who have very bad FICO scores, and in between,” Watts says. (Fair Isaac doesn’t have statistics on the average FICO score for bankruptcy filers.) Granted, you won’t be able to bring your score up to the perfect 850 as long as your bankruptcy stays in your report, but with good credit management after filing, a score in the 700s isn’t impossible.

Then again, your credit score alone shouldn’t affect whether or not you decide to file bankruptcy. “You have to be realistic about your ability to get back on your feet financially,” says credit expert Gerri Detweiler, author of “The Ultimate Credit Handbook.” Most experts would still say that if you can dig your way out of debt without declaring bankruptcy, that’s a better way to go, since, among other things, you may be forced to sell certain assets — in some states even your home or car — to meet the bankruptcy filing requirements. (This can be the case with Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but not Chapter 13.) Another issue: Given the tougher new bankruptcy rules, you may not even be able to declare bankruptcy.

That said, if your debt payments are crushing you, bankruptcy will give you a much-needed fresh start. And with a few clever credit repair strategies, your score could be back in the 700s within two or three years. For specifics, see our sidebar.

Bouncing Back Here’s how to raise your credit score as quickly as possible after declaring bankruptcy:

  1. Damage control Make sure all the accounts you included in your bankruptcy are listed as such, and show $0 balances if you filed Chapter 7, says Detweiler. If a creditor continues to report the account as delinquent — which they shouldn’t — your credit score would suffer.
  2. Get new credit cards That’s the most important step in your bankruptcy recovery, Detweiler says. If you can’t get approved for an unsecured credit card, start out with a secured card. With a secured card, you will make a deposit with the credit-card issuer, which will in essence be your credit limit. Typically, after a year to 18 months of on-time payments, you could “graduate” to a regular, unsecured credit card.
  3. Piggyback If you have a trusted friend or relative, ask them to make you an authorized user on one of their credit cards. Your bankruptcy won’t affect your friend’s credit, but you’ll automatically get the account history for that card in your report.
  4. Bigger loans What about auto loans and mortgages? You can start shopping for auto loans as soon as a few months out of bankruptcy, says Steven Snyder, author of the book “Credit After Bankruptcy.” Traditional banks are likely to turn you down, but the financing folks at the dealership may be more lenient, especially if they’re in a bind to meet sales quotas. Mortgage lenders will want to see at least two years of good credit behavior, according to Snyder.

 

info (1)

Information taked in part from“Declaring Bankruptcy Can Improve Your Credit Score” by Aleksandra Todorova, and published in “SmartMoney” January 22, 2007.

How to File for Student Loan Bankruptcy | Bankruptcy Law Center

How to File for Student Loan Bankruptcy

In the United States, the average student loan debt is $32,731. Since 2016, the average amount of student loan debt has increased by 20%. Additionally, over 600,000 borrowers owe over [...]
Read more
How Many Types of Bankruptcy are There? | Bankruptcy Law Center

How Many Types of Bankruptcy are There?

There are six different types of bankruptcy under the United States Bankruptcy Code. The name of each type of bankruptcy is the chapter of the Bankruptcy Code, in which it [...]
Read more

See What Our Clients Have To Say

Yelp Review

Roger C.

I reached out to BLC to help assist with a chapter 7 business bankruptcy and they provided excellent guidance, advice, and support through the entire process. In my case an adversarial action was filed by one of the creditors and attorney Ahren Tiller and his staff provided sound ...arguments which prevailed. Couldn’t have found a more experienced and supportive team to represent me in a tricky situation. I would highly recommend them to anyone making the difficult but sometime necessary decision to find financial relief. Read more
Yelp Review

Justin R.

Like many others before and during the pandemic, life happenings caused me to be in a financial situation to warrant bankruptcy. The BLC was super professional all the way through the entire process. Right after I paid for my Bankruptcy, I got sick and had to have surgery and recovery. Then we ...were in full Pandemic mode. They were gracious to delay my filing until I was recovered and ready to file. I could not ask for more. The process was over all quick and painless for a simple Bankruptcy like mine. I feel a weight has been lifted and I can rebuild. Thank you for all your arduous work and patience, Gabriel, Ahren, and their teams are knowledgeable and efficient. Read more
Google Review

Katey Huntley

Responsive, friendly, kind, extremely easy to work with! So knowledgeable and made this entire process painless. Very grateful!

Google Review

Lynn Molina

Gabriel Hanna, Esq and the staff at BLC helped me in a very difficult time. I appreciate all the help and care they gave my case.

Google Review

Linda Cramer

I can’t say enough of how much this bankruptcy law firm helped me with my financial situation. They were all so helpful, efficient and made the difficult time and process as quick and easy as possible. I would recommend them to anyone I know and am glad to give my public recommendation as well. T...hey truly deserve a five star plus rating. Read more
Yelp Review

Andrea N.

I am very happy with my experience with BLC. Bankruptcy is not something anyone wants to go through, however everyone at BLC made my experience pleasant and easy. The process was explained thoroughly and I had an easy time reaching out and connecting with my attorney. Anika Renaud-Kim was my attorney ...and she was nothing short of amazing! She was very patient and generous with her time. Ms. Renaud-Kim definitely made me feel at ease and comfortable through the entire process. Read more
Facebook Review

Lidia Paramore

they did a great job for me, helped me anytime I needed something, my Lawyer Gabriel Hanna is the best, gave lots of confidence all the time..thanks BLC I will.always recommend you, I’m very grateful for your service!!!

Yelp Review

Rachael C.

When searching for information I had called a few different firms and received consults. BLC was the only one who didn’t shy away and provided answers and information during the consult. Once I agreed to move forward, they were supportive, informative, and eased my anxiety through the whole process.... I can’t recommend them enough. Read more
Google Review

Emily Martinez

AmazingI had many questions and uncertainties and the carefully explained it all and made it easy to understand. They facilitated a fast and easy process making this scary difficult thing simple

Ready To Eliminate Your Debt?

Bankruptcy is still the best option. Other debt plans make promises, but only bankruptcy delivers.

FREE CASE EVALUATION 

Logo

SAN DIEGO OFFICE

1230 Columbia St. #1100 San Diego, CA 92101

LOS ANGELES OFFICE

11500 Olympic Blvd., 4th Floor Los Angeles, CA 90064

VISTA OFFICE

380 South Melrose Drive #300 Vista, CA 92081
© 2022 Bankruptcy Attorneys. All Right Reserved.

Legal Disclaimer: The Bankruptcy Law Center is a California Licensed law firm with attorneys licensed in the state of CA, NY. Attorney Ahren Tiller is responsible for this advertisement. Bankruptcy Law Center’s principal office is located at 1230 Columbia st. Suite 850 San Diego, CA 92101. Prior results listed on this site do not depict or in any way infer a prediction or outcome.We are a debt relief agency proudly providing options to people with financial problems. View our Privacy Policy