If I can’t pay the minimum amount on my credit cards, what happens if I stop paying?

UPDATED: Apr 3, 2012

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If I can’t pay the minimum amount on my credit cards, what happens if I stop paying?

I lost my job and I can’t even pay the minimum amount on my credit cards.

Asked on April 3, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your first step is to see if you can get some income coming in.  Go and file with the Texas Workforce Commission to see if you qualify for unemployment.  Even if you were fired, some terminations will still qualify for unemployment benefits.  They offer most of their forms online now.  Your second step is to contact your credit card companies and see what your options are.  Some will try to get you to set up a restructured payment plan-- right now... but if you have multiple cards, tell them that you need to talk to all of your creditors before you make a final commitment.  This isn't just fluff-- you really do need to make an assessment before you agree to anything.  If your next payment is not due for a while, you may want to see how your unemployment claim turns out to see if you will have any funds coming in with which to negotiate lower payments.  If you cannot get creditors to cooperate with you, you may want to consider filing for bankruptcy.  Many bankruptcy attorneys will offer free consultations to see if this choice is right for you at this time.  As to the part of your question about what happens if you do not pay:  more than likely you will start receiving collection notices and calls.  They will also post your failure to pay status on your credit report.  If you start to get harrassed, rather than just contacted, by a collector, then go to the Texas Attorney General website for info on how to file a complaint against bad collection agencies.

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