What is a Credit Card Charge-Off?

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Contributor, Benzinga
July 17, 2023

Discover what is a credit card charge-off to effectively navigate a less-than-ideal financial situation. A charge-off will likely stay on important financial records for an extended period, making it difficult to receive favorable rates and terms. Consider speaking with a financial professional to discuss your options and avoid experiencing a charge-off.

How Does Credit Card Charge-Off Work?

According to the Federal Reserve, a charge-off happens when the amount of money owed is considered a loss and charged against a lender’s loss reserves.  A credit card charge-off happens when an individual still owes credit card debt, but the company’s attempts to collect the debt have failed. Learn how credit card charge-offs can impact your credit score while discovering how to negotiate a charge-off removal. Examine your credit card charge-off rate to determine the default balance compared to your total amount of outstanding credit.

How Does a Credit Card Charge-Off Impact the Credit Score?

Yes, charge-offs are able to harm your score because a big part of your credit score examines your payment history. A charge-off can stay on your credit score for up to seven years.

Can I Remove a Charge-Off from My Credit Report?

Yes, it’s possible to remove charge-offs that are considered illegitimate from your credit report. However, getting a charge-off removed varies by case. Think about speaking with the original lender to negotiate a deal and potentially enter into a pay-for-delete agreement. A pay-for-delete agreement means you agree to pay the debt even though it’s been charged off. This strategy has the potential to place you in a better position as you attempt to negotiate with your original lender to remove the charge-off from your credit report.

What Happens to Debt After a Credit Card Charge-Off?

After an extended period, the debt is considered a loss and removed from the credit sheet. This action typically happens when a payment is one to six months overdue.

Are There Any Ways to Prevent a Credit Card Charge-Off?

You have multiple ways to prevent a credit card charge-off. One key way to avoid a  credit card charge-off is to make the minimum monthly payments on your account. Meeting at least the minimum can help you avoid late fees and prevent you from ultimately getting your card charged off. Stop using the credit card in question to avoid worsening the situation.

Communication is key. Keep in contact with your lender or creditor to explain your predicament. Reaching out might provide you with the opportunity to negotiate a payment plan.

Can I Still Use my Credit Card After a Charge-Off?

You will be unable to use your credit card after a charge-off. The lender closes your account, which means you will not be allowed to make future charges on the charged-off card.

How Can You Negotiate a Charge-Off Removal?

The best way to negotiate a charge-off removal is to speak with the original lender. Collect the details regarding your debt before reaching out.

Example of a Credit Card Charge-Off

For example, if you have $1,000 on your credit card and do not provide minimum payments or make an effort to repay the debt then the credit card will likely be charged off in 180 days. 

Things That Are Affected by a Credit Card Charge-Off

Recognize the things that are affected by a credit card charge-off including your credit score, credit report and future debt.

Credit Score

A  credit score shows your level of creditworthiness. Credit scores typically range between 300 and 850. When it comes to scores, higher is better. A charge-off can heavily impact your credit score because credit scores are largely based on your payment history.

Credit Report

Credit reports detail your credit history by examining information such as your accounts and personal history. The reports can include public information such as filed bankruptcies. A charge-off will stay on your credit report for several years, which has the potential to make it difficult to open credit cards or receive financial assistance in the future.

Debt Collection

Debt collection happens when an agency like a debt collection agency attempts to collect debts from past due borrowers. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), debt collectors are banned from using dishonest debt collection methods. Debt collectors are notified once an individual fails to make repayments. Even after the debt is charged off, a debt collector may still attempt to collect the debt.

Future Credit

Your future credit will likely be impacted by a charge-off. Charge-offs heavily impact your credit score, which can make it difficult to regain a strong financial position.

Loan Approval

Loan approval relies on factors including your credit score and credit report. Because a charge-off impacts your credit score and credit report, it’s likely that you will have a more difficult time when searching for the ideal loan. Lower credit scores are associated with diminished levels of creditworthiness. If you have a low credit score, you will likely have a difficult time getting approved for loans with more favorable rates and terms.

Insurance Premiums

Insurance premiums indicate the price paid to get an insurance policy. A charge-off will likely indirectly impact your insurance premium. One reason for the impact is that a charge-off influences your credit score, and insurers typically examine your credit score when determining your insurance premium.

What Are the Consequences of a Charge-Off?

A charge-off will likely complicate your financial future by making it difficult to achieve a favorable credit score or credit report. A charge-off can potentially make it hard to get approved for a loan while increasing your insurance premiums. It’s possible for a charge-off’s impact to span several years. Because a charge-off impacts most aspects of your financial life, it’s recommended to avoid being faced with the situation by at least meeting the minimum credit card payments.


A charge-off can influence your credit as well as your larger financial situation. Keep in mind that a charge-off has the potential to press several financial pain points all at once. Avoid falling into a negative financial cycle by speaking with your lender and making small, regular payments on your debt.

Frequently Asked Questions


How long does a credit card charge-off stay on the credit report?


The credit card charge-off statute of limitations potentially extends up to seven years.


Can I negotiate a payment plan after my dept has been charged off?


In certain situations, it might be possible to negotiate a payment plan by reaching out to the lender or debt collection agency.


How long does it take for a credit card debt to be charged off?


It typically takes 180 days before a credit card is charged off.