The general answer is no. You have to list all the people that you owe money to, including every single one of your credit card issuers. Even credit card issuers who are not owed a debt are going to find out about your bankruptcy filing. Those creditors subscribe to a service which notifies them of all bankruptcy cases filed throughout the country. Those creditors then match those names and Social Security numbers with their individual databases, and they will stop the debtor from being able to use those cards in the future, even if there was a zero balance. Now, in some rare instances there are certain creditors who are willing to allow the debtor to keep a card through the bankruptcy, provided the debtor agrees to reaffirm the debt and agree to be bound on that debt.
What I tell my clients is this. There’s no reason to reaffirm a debt on a credit card. A credit card debt is unsecured purchases that can easily be eliminated in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. There will be opportunities in the future to get another credit card. You can start with a secured credit card where you put $250.00 or $500.00 in a bank account and that is your charging privileges. The benefit of a secured credit card is you have the convenience of plastic. You have a credit limit of what you put in the bank account, so you set your limit. And most importantly, the secured credit card company will report you to the credit bureaus as a good source of credit, provided you continue to make those payments.
Oftentimes I find a client who wants to keep one or two credit cards. Maybe they have a loyalty or affinity to the first card they got or a card that has a certain picture on it or a certain baseball team logo on it. I tell the clients over and over and over again, “Do not plan on keeping that credit card. You are going to lose that credit card.”
Now if you have a zero balance, I as the attorney don’t need to know about that because that in fact is not a debt. You will not see a credit card that you have a zero balance on listed on your schedules in Schedule F as a debt. There’s no reason to list it because we only have to list debts that you owe. However, don’t plan on being able to keep that card. You are likely going to get a letter from the credit card issuer telling you that your charging privileges are terminated, and that they are closing the account due to the fact that you filed a bankruptcy, even though you did not owe that credit card company any money at the time you filed the bankruptcy. This is a harsh reality of doing a Chapter 7 fresh start bankruptcy. You are going to get a fresh start, like it or not, of all the debts that can be eliminated in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.
Credit cards are something that you will get offers for again in the future. You will definitely have credit cards in the future if you want them, so don’t fear that you’re going to lose all your credit cards. Initially, it’s a good thing. It’s good that you go without some credit immediately after filing a bankruptcy so that you learn how to spend money on a cash basis. You’ll be amazed how much less you spend when you actually are pulling out cash as opposed to plastic. There are plenty of studies on this. You will spend a ton of money more with credit card convenience than you will if you have to pull out green money.