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Can I keep using my credit cards until I file bankruptcy?

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In a Nutshell

Once you’ve decided that you’ll be filing bankruptcy to deal with your debt, you should not continue to incur new debt. That includes making new charges on your credit card, or getting a new loan. 

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated September 4, 2020

Once you’ve decided that you’ll be filing bankruptcy to deal with your debt, you should not continue to incur new debt. That includes making new charges on your credit card, or getting a new loan. 

Debts incurred with the intent to eliminate them by filing bankruptcy can’t be eliminated by filing bankruptcy. Otherwise, someone who knows a bankruptcy filing is in their future could just max out all of their credit cards. Bankruptcy provides relief for the honest but unfortunate debtor. It does not provide an avenue to cheat banks out of as much money as possible. 

In fact, if you incur any debt to purchase a luxury item in the 90 days before filing your case, it’s assumed that you did that on purpose so you wouldn’t have to pay for it.

What if I have to charge to buy necessities? 

If you’re stuck in the cycle of making your minimum payments on your credit cards in an effort to stay current and then using that credit card to buy necessities, such as food or prescriptions, the first thing you should do is stop making your credit card payments. This should free up enough money every month to pay for your necessities in cash or with your bank account by debit card or otherwise. 

What if I’m filing next month and I just used my credit card to buy groceries? 

In an ideal world, you would pay at least the amount you just charged on the credit card before filing your case, even if it’s less than the minimum payment due. That shows the court that you acted in good faith and tried to do the right thing. 

I just filed and made charges in the 3 months before filing - what can I expect? 

Ultimately, it really depends on how frequently and how much you charged. The more someone charged on their credit card in the 3 months before filing, the more likely it is that the credit card company will object to having the debt discharged. Learn more about what that means and how that would work in our article on objections to discharge

Do I have to worry about this forever? How will I know that a creditor has an objection? 

You will be given the opportunity to explain what happened to the court. This is not something that the creditor can do in secret or at any point in time. The creditor only has a certain amount of time to raise this issue. Check your Form 309A for the deadline set by the court in your case and mark the date on your calendar. If you don’t hear anything from the creditor before then, the debt will be eliminated when your discharge is entered. 

Written By:

Attorney Andrea Wimmer


Andrea practiced exclusively as a bankruptcy attorney in consumer Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases for more than 10 years before joining Upsolve, first as a contributing writer and editor and ultimately joining the team as Managing Editor. While in private practice, Andrea handled... read more about Attorney Andrea Wimmer

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