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Can I Use My Credit Cards for Christmas Gifts and Still File Bankruptcy?

Can I Use My Credit Cards for Christmas Gifts and Still File Bankruptcy?

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Yes, you can use your credit cards for Christmas and still file bankruptcy. However, you must be extremely careful. If you are filing within ninety days of using your credit cards, you must make sure that you have used them only for “necessary” i

Daley Center Christmas Tree

Daley Center Christmas Tree

tems and not for “luxury” items. If you are filing more than 90 days since you last used your credit card, you can essentially charge anything onto the credit cards except it cannot be in bad faith or with a fraudulent intent. Schedule a Bankruptcy Consultation

At this “Christmas” time of year, people spend excessively and often use credit cards. A large portion of Chapter 7 Bankruptcies are filed in the months of February, March and April because tax refunds can be used for paying your bankruptcy attorney fees, filing fees and due diligence costs such as credit reports.

1. Best Solution: Do not use your credit cards – At All. File Bankruptcy with your tax refund as early as January or anytime after you receive your tax refund.

2. Fair Solution: Use your credit card over the holidays and prior to your bankruptcy for “necessary” items such as groceries and clothing from non-luxury retailers. File Bankruptcy with your tax refund as early as January or anytime after you receive your tax refund. Before even considering this solution, you should seek out a qualified bankruptcy attorney.

3. So-So Solution: Use your credit card for non-luxury items that might be objectionable as non-necessary, such as toys, electronics or other items are not basic survival items, such as food and clothing. You could possibly file in January, February or March but best choice is to file April 30th or later.

4. Not so great solution: Use your credit card for all items at all retailers, including luxury retailers. Purchase jewelry, electronics and just about anything you want. File your bankruptcy at least ninety days after the last purchase. Take the chance that you have made such flagrantly offensive purchases that the creditor files an adversary petition to take away your discharge, or, worse yet, fraud. Bottom line: this is risky at best, but if the purchases are small enough, a calculated risk.

5. Terrible solution that will nearly always run into problems: Use your credit card during the holidays on anything and run every card up to the limit. Include luxury items at luxury retailers. File your bankruptcy whenever you want, such as February. Chances are that if the purchase is over $500 at any one creditor, the creditor will file an adversary lawsuit.

One scenario that happens over and over again (often times with bad results) is the “blowout” Christmas Charger who decides to “let it all out” one last time before filing for bankruptcy. This charger may still have up to $1000 left in credit and may often purchase entirely luxury goods, such as an iPad, Wii, Xbox, large screen T.V., an unnecessary computer, a trip to the Caribbean, or a bunch of jewelry. Then the charger stops in to a local attorney’s office and doesn’t mention the charging, the bankruptcy attorney doesn’t check out the charge bills, the bankruptcy is filed in February and then a lawsuit is file by the credit card company to take away the bankruptcy discharge with regard to the credit purchases. Usually, the debtor is forced to hire a second attorney at $2000 or more to represent the debtor in a defense of the discharge action and usually results in the debtor entering into a promise to pay the entire debt to the creditor with interest over a period of time.

What is the lesson of this article? If you are contemplating bankruptcy, stop using your credit cards and keep it simple. If you must use your credit cards, then use them only on food and clothing and at non-luxury retailers. Under all circumstances, try to not use your credit cards at all 90 days prior to the filing of your bankruptcy.

Three true stories:

Client purchases an $8,000 hot tub one week prior to filing on a line a credit issued from a credit card style creditor. Client files bankruptcy. 2 & 1/2 month after filing bankruptcy, debtor is sued by the credit card company. Creditor seeks to take away the debtor’s discharge with regard to the $8000 debt plus attorney fees and interest or about $10,500 total. If the case was not settled, this would have eventually been a garnishment on debtor’s income for about five years at 15% of his gross salary. Due to a settlement, the debtor was able to pay off the debt under a new agreement over 5 years at a reasonable interest rate. What does this teach us? A luxury item purchased within 90 days prior to a bankruptcy filing that is obnoxious and unnecessary and expensive will result in a nasty lawsuit that will cost the debtor another $1000-2000 in legal fees and possibly ruin all of the benefit of the bankruptcy.

Client purchases a tennis bracelet at Nordstrom as a “gift to herself” for filing bankruptcy…Good Luck! Nordstrom filed suit against the debtor, debtor ended up returning the item and paying about $600 in attorney fees to Nordstrom as a settlement instead of a fraud judgment, which would have resulted in the denial of an entire discharge of all debts. Bottom line: no “gifts” for successfully filing bankruptcy. No jewelry purchases on credit cards included in the bankruptcy up to one day before filing.

Client knows he isn’t going to be able to afford a new riding lawn mower for many years after filing bankruptcy, and one week prior to bankruptcy he purchases a new riding lawn mower for $1500.00. Client files bankruptcy one week later. Client does not tell his attorney about this purchase and does not make the bill available to the attorney, and the attorney must rely upon a credit report to file the bankruptcy petition. Debtor is sued in an adversary petition to deny the discharge of this debt. Result: client ends up paying the debt back over 36 months at 10% interest. Not much better result than if he had purchased it one year after the bankruptcy legitimately.

The one resounding rule throughout these cases seems to be that creditors object to the discharge, but this “un-permitted” purchasing in effect gives the debtor access to a tool right away that he may have needed immediately but would not have been able to get after the bankruptcy. Bottom line: even though the behavior above is in violation of the bankruptcy code and even though creditors dislike this behavior, they do end up preferring to extend a loan at a reasonable interest rate.

NLO Nelson Law Office is a debt relief agency offering debt relief through bankruptcy. To schedule a free confirmation click here and write “Bankruptcy Consultation Request” and hit send. Our office will respond with a variety of times and date for your consultation. Or…call our national toll-free number 877-GO-GO-NLO or 877-464-6656.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code. CALL 877-GO-GO-NLO (877-464-6656) FOR A FREE BANKRUPTCY CONSULTATION TODAY! SATURDAY APPOINTMENTS ARE AVAILABLE.