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How Soon Can A Bankruptcy Be Removed from My Credit Report?

Elizabeth Aldrich

Bankruptcy. It’s a scary word. To most people, it sounds like a financial death sentence.

But it’s actually not. Consider the fact that in 2016, almost 800,000 Americans filed for bankruptcy. The number one reason? Mounting medical bills, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

While bankruptcy is serious and does have a significant impact on your financial abilities, it’s not a monumental failure or a financial death sentence. Bankruptcy exists as a tool for people who find themselves in a financial situation that they just can’t fix.

Bankruptcy will not have a hold on your finances forever. In fact, it’s even possible to start rebuilding them right away.

How long will a bankruptcy stay on my credit report?

Anything on the public record (including bankruptcy) stays on your credit report for up to 10 years. However, in some cases, a bankruptcy can fall off your credit report in 7 years. This largely depends on the type of bankruptcy you declared. As a consumer, you will file either Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Most consumers file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy over Chapter 13 bankruptcy. They assume that Chapter 7 bankruptcy is better, because it doesn’t require you to pay back your debts. Chapter 13 bankruptcy does require you to pay back some or all of your debts. So, Chapter 7 sounds better, right?

Well, not necessarily. Firstly, you need to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You must be able to prove that you have no disposable income or liquidity and that your current monthly income is below your state’s median rate in order to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

On top of that, it is easier to get Chapter 13 bankruptcy off of your credit report in 7 years than Chapter 7 bankruptcy. According to Equifax, Chapter 7 bankruptcy and non-discharged Chapter 13 bankruptcy remain on file for 10 years from the date filed. However, if a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is discharged, it remains on file for only 7 years from the date filed. Your bankruptcy is discharged once you’ve completed your payment plan and shown the courts that you’ve repaid your creditors the amount necessary.

In short: a bankruptcy will usually remain on your credit report for 10 years. However, with very quick repayment on a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it is possible to have the bankruptcy come off of your report after only 7 years.

It’s worth noting that regardless of what type of bankruptcy you file, the accounts related to your bankruptcy will fall off of your credit report after 7 years. Furthermore, while bankruptcy can relieve you of the obligation to pay some debts, there are certain debts that cannot be legally discharged. These include child support, recent taxes, and student loans.

What can I do to improve my credit score with a bankruptcy?

In the meantime, remember that bankruptcy is not a financial death sentence. In fact, you don’t even have to wait 7-10 years to start rebuilding your credit.

While declaring bankruptcy will certainly make it difficult for you to access credit or reasonable interest rates for the next 7-10 years, the action itself doesn’t necessarily harm your score. In fact, it can help you out. Most people who file for bankruptcy already have pretty terrible credit scores. According to data from Equifax in 2010, those who filed for bankruptcy saw their scores increase, on average, about 80 points from right before they filed until after the proceedings had closed roughly 8 months later.

So, what can you do to help increase your score while you’ve still got that bankruptcy on your report? Here are a few tips:

  • If you agreed upon a payment plan with courts, stick to it. There is nothing worse than messing up your payment plan after filing for bankruptcy.
  • Never miss a payment! If you’re paying rent, insurance, or any other bills, make sure that you are always paying them on time. This is the easiest way to build your credit.
  • Get a secured credit card. These are designed for people with no or very poor credit. They have very high interest rates and sometimes high annual fees, but they are the only way to rebuild credit when your credit score is very low. Don’t get excited and spend all of your newfound credit– in fact, you should never spend more than 30% of your credit limit, and always pay it off in full each month.
  • Do not apply for more than one credit card at once. The more credit card applications you fill out, the more they will drag down your score. If you apply for a secured card and are denied, you should wait at least 6 months, if not a full year, before trying again. You can call a credit card company before applying and ask them what their policy is for approving applicants with bankruptcies on their credit report.
  • Once you’ve been making on-time payments for a couple of years and your credit score is up to at least 650, consider applying for an auto loan. It will be difficult to find an auto loan with a reasonable interest rate, but it is possible, and it’s a great way to continue building your credit score. One factor in determining your credit score is whether or not you have a variety of credit. Having both a credit card and an auto loan mixes things up and helps you improve your score.
  • Once you’ve had a secured credit card for a couple years and have been making regular payments and increasing your credit score, try applying for an unsecured credit card. Unsecured credit cards are generally a much better deal than secured credit cards, and this will help you build your credit even more. Do your research and make sure you find a credit card with a history of approving people in your credit score range.

Beware of credit repair services. You may find that after you file bankruptcy, you’ll start noticing ads everywhere from the radio to the internet, for services that can help you bring your credit score back up after a bankruptcy. Most of these places cannot accomplish what they claim, and many of them are outright scams.

In the end, the best way to recover is to do your research, learn about credit scores and how they’re calculated, and then manage your finances accordingly while avoiding common post-bankruptcy mistakes. Get some people in your life who can hold you accountable and track your credit score regularly.

You can recover from bankruptcy, but it will take hard work and great financial management. Consider these 7-10 years an opportunity to show creditors that you are capable of controlling your finances

About the author

Elizabeth Aldrich

Elizabeth Aldrich

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and “digital nomad” specializing in small business, entrepreneurship, career advice, real estate, travel, arts, and culture. She’s written for outlets as varied as Rawckus Music and Arts Magazine, Itcher Entertainment, Sweden Tips, Houzz, Hometalk, JobHero, Tico Times, and Eugene Weekly. Thanks to a three-year stint in a travel job, a knack for mining great deals, and credit card churning, she has not paid for a single flight since 2012, despite her constant travels. You can find her on Twitter @LizzieAldrich or her website, www.elizabethaldrich.com.

40 Comments

  • I filed for chapter 7 in 2016 and was discharged in 2017. Before receiving my discharge in the mail, I received no fewer than 10 offers for auto loans for a new or used car. I secured 2 new credit cards through companies that have good credit building approaches of offering a low ($700) limit that doubles after 6 months of payments. These cards have no memberships fees. I secured an auto loan for $25,000 through Navy federal Credit Union within a week after bankruptcy discharge. They approved my loan in less than a minute. My credit score was around 600 then and now is over 700 a year later.

  • Generally you are better off paying cash for items, never using credit and avoiding credit reporting agencies. The agencies basically work for banks and banks are in business to take your money.

  • This is the same dilemma people face today with the Department of Education’s monitoring of student loans. It’s time for serious reform. Notwithstanding that, the three major credit bureaus appear to have removed most, if not all, negative information relating to these unpaid loans, at their discretion. Perhaps that’s their way of tacitly disapproving of the undue burden placed upon these victims. Another reason to periodically check one’s credit reports with all three bureaus.

    • I had to go chapter 7 due to my daughter being born with 7 heart defects! My 2 million dollar major medical health insurance was used within 2 years!!! Also my ex wife did my income taxes and truly did a number on me! I got a certified letter from the IRS 7 years later stating that I owed $68.800 dollars on a $9200 Dollar Federal income tax! So I had no choice but to go chapter 7!!!! Everyone said but you can’t go Bankrupt on Federal income Tax???
      Yes you can if you are current on the past 2 years!! So my awesome Attorney did my Bankruptcy and I used my
      Brother to obtain credit cards as an authorized user thanks to credit Solution program!! And within 15 months I now am So Grateful to now have a 722; 738; and a 742
      FICO SCORE!! My Attorney got everything erased accept my chapter 7 and I now have my own credit cards and I am now approved on my New Home at 3.5% APR 30 year fixed rate! Thanks to being with Credit Solutions Program for 3 1/2 years that I knew the HOW AND WHAT TO EXPECT ON REBUILDING MY CREDIT!!!

  • What other options are there for stopping collection against me. Also why is it not mandatory that if I have to pay the collection, that I receive the property.

  • I never had a “Discharge” But we withdrew our filing and have had ” Dismissed” logged on our reports for the past 8 years??? How do we get that taken off????

  • Your article is INCORRECT …. the FCRA is very clear on the matter of Chapter 13 removal. It says that a Chapter 13 bankruptcy needs to be removed no later than 7 years from the FILING DATE. NOT the discharge date. If it were the discharge date there would be no reason to file a Chapter 13 as opposed to a Chapter 7. The incentive for quicker credit restoration would not be there.

  • Does your services
    Include review of
    Credit file .
    Can and wI’ll you
    Help with clean up
    Of file. I have not
    Been able to obtain
    Copy of my report

    • Hi Donald,
      We provide advice. If you would like someone to personally help you clean up your credit file, you will have to speak to a credit repair company, like Credit Pros. Give them a call at 855-980-4898. Hope that helps!

  • Filed a Ch 13 in 2012 to avoid foreclosure after divorce. Found another solution and voluntarily withdrew the filing BEFORE it ever went before the court. Credit bureaus REFUSE to remove it, saying, “Well, we’re allowed to report it AND keep it simply because it WAS filed!” How is that possibly fair in any sense of the word?!!

    • Medical bills may not be as bad as other bills on your credit report , but it still lowers your credit rating & thats what is looked at when you try to get credit , say to buy a car or house. The lower rate the harder it is to get credit or even if you do.

  • Hi my name is Gregory Boyd I file bankruptcy in 2013 but never went through with it. Never met with any creditors, I did it because they would not give me a modification.. my mortgage company. But then when I file they gave it to me, that was exactly one day after i file. My question is If I never went through with it, or gave no one any money except for the filing fees.. How is it still on my credit report?? And how can I get it off

    • You can file a Chapter 13 4 years after a Chapter 7 (if you are looking for another discharge that is, you can file a Chapter 13 immediately following a Chapter 7 in order to catch up with Priority Debts that were not discharged), but if you already have a Chapter 7 in which your debts were discharged, you can’t file another Chapter 7 until after after 8 years.

  • Can you explain how monthly payments to trustee are calculated please.
    What is the amount based on.
    Shouldn’t the monthly payments be lesser to in order to give a person a break and catch up with everyday bills? Thank you.

  • while this is good for informational purposes, it really doesn’t address a benefitial alternative solution to this 10 year reporting.

  • Thx! Was wondering why my bankruptcy was still lingering around after “7” years gone by. Oh well… Still have good credit, even with it. I’m quite sure establiments kinda understand it was soooooo long ago, and don’t really frown upon it any longer. 👍

  • How can I make sure bankruptcies removed in 7 years and how can I remove since I am 6months from the 7th year?

    • Hey Douglas,
      That depends on what steps you take to fix or build your credit! Please feel free to read the blog and learn more about how to do that.

    • Douglas, usually right after they remove that item, your score will bump up 30-60 points. It’s different for each credit agency.

  • So if I filed for bankruptcy in the past is there any way to remove it from your credit report or lower the time it’s on your report? Or am I stuck with it for the next ten years?

    • Yes, 99% of the time, your Chapter 7 will remain on your credit report for the full 10 years. They do it because they can. Like obummer does in the white house. You can have it taken off but it will cost you a credit repair firm. Good luck.

  • Hi, I filed for bankruptcy a year ago but never went thru with it after coming to a conclusion that it wasn’t the best thing. My attorney filed the paperwork and now it shows dismissed on my credit report. How can I get this removed?

    • The 3 credit agencies prepare your credit report by automatically collecting any kind of ticks on your report, like bankruptcies, dismissals, late payments, etc.

      You need a lawyer to contact that lawyer who filed any kind of negative item, to write a letter to the credit agencies who are showing that item, to give the credit agencies something to work with, when they write the source of the negative item, to give them 30 days to reply back to the credit agencies, or not. If that source does not answer within 30 days, the credit agencies usually take that negative item off your record. That is how it usually works. Good luck.

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