Bankruptcy vs. Default

by Luke Arthur ; Updated July 27, 2017

When you get behind in your bills, you may be faced with the option of going into default or filing for bankruptcy. Neither option is particularly attractive, but one option might work better for you than the other depending on your situation. Bankruptcy will hurt your credit more than defaulting on a single debt, but it can help you eliminate the debt quickly.

Default

When you cannot afford to pay credit cards or some other similar type of loan or account, the account may go into default. When this happens, the creditor can then take you to court and try to get a judgment against you. With this judgment, your creditor can then try to collect through wage garnishment, levying your bank accounts or through other methods. Depending on the size of the debt, the creditor may not go through the trouble of collecting the money, but they could report the default to the credit bureaus.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Instead of allowing your accounts to go into default, you may consider filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy. With chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can have all of your debts eliminated with the help of the bankruptcy court. Through this process, the bankruptcy court has the right to take your property and liquidate it to repay your creditors. After that takes place, they eliminate the rest of your debts and your creditors can no longer attempt to collect from you.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Another option that you may want to consider is chapter 13 bankruptcy. With chapter 13 bankruptcy, you enter into a repayment plan with your creditors. The bankruptcy trustee helps you set up the plan with your creditors and then you pay the bankruptcy trustee every month. The trustee then uses the money to pay your creditors for you. At the end of the plan, any debt that is remaining is discharged by the bankruptcy court.

Considerations

The long-term impacts of bankruptcy will be more damaging as your credit score will be lowered more than if you simply default on a single debt. The bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for 10 years. If you try to get financing during this time, it may be difficult to qualify and you may only qualify for a high interest rate. When you allow your accounts to go into default, you will also have to deal with the impact of the late payments leading up to the eventual default.

About the Author

Luke Arthur has been writing professionally since 2004 on a number of different subjects. In addition to writing informative articles, he published a book, "Modern Day Parables," in 2008. Arthur holds a Bachelor of Science in business from Missouri State University.