Filing for bankruptcy can negatively affect your borrowing power because your credit score is likely to plummet. This depends on your credit profile, however. If you have fair or bad credit and multiple negative items listed, then you would expect a low to moderate drop. Borrowers with spotless or very good credit, however, see a significant drop.
What to Expect
It is a good idea to learn more about bankruptcy as to know what to expect. This is a last resort for borrowers who have exhausted all other options such as counseling, negotiation with creditors, debt consolidation. Consolidation loans, for example, are offered to borrowers to combine multiple debts and benefit from a single payment. It is a form of refinancing for borrowers with a lot of outstanding debt. Bankruptcy is a solution for people who owe more money than the total value of their assets. In fact, if you owe $1,000 or more and are unable to keep up with payments, you meet the criteria.
Bankruptcy is a solution for borrowers who have unsecured debts, including personal loans, vacation loans, credit cards, lines of credit, etc. Those having a lot of equity may not be allowed to keep their home. When it comes to personal belongings, there are certain exemptions to look into. The list includes things like retirement savings and pensions, heating fuel and food, and farm supplies, equipment, animals, and land. When filing for bankruptcy Canada based borrowers are also allowed to keep their vehicle, furniture, clothing, and health aids. Exemptions vary from province to province. In Alberta, for example, you are allowed to keep your social allowance, farm land, principal home, farm property, tools of trade, household appliances, and food. In Manitoba, you are also allowed to keep some life insurance policies, locked-in pension plans, religious items, etc. In any case, bank accounts are not exempt.
The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act governs receiverships, commercial and consumer proposals, and bankruptcies. A bankruptcy trustee is appointed to represent the borrower’s estate. Once you have filed, you can expect to receive a discharge in about 9 months unless a court orders an extension.
Your Borrowing Power
After you have filed for bankruptcy, your borrowing power will be seriously affected because you are considered a high-risk customer. There are some things to do to improve your chances of getting approved for a loan or a credit card.
Get Your Discharge
The first step is to get your discharge in a timely manner. Once you do this, it is time to start rebuilding your credit.
Apply for a Secured Card
There are several options to look into, among which secured loans and secured credit cards. A secured credit card is easier to get even if you have a tarnished credit score. The reason is that your savings account serves as collateral, i.e. guarantee of repayment. This makes it less risky for financial institutions. Secured cards are offered to borrowers with a history of poor credit and limited credit exposure. The limit depends on the amount deposited and your score.
A Store Card
Another option is to apply for and open a department store card but interest rates tend to be significantly higher compared to other products. This can be a good solution if your department store offers generous discounts but there is more. A store card can help you to improve you score if you make occasional purchases (as opposed to many purchases). This will help you to lower your utilization rate. A low utilization rate proves to financial institutions that you are a low-risk borrower. Aim at a utilization rate of about 15 percent to help rebuild your credit score. This is provided that you make timely payments and use the line in a responsible manner. In fact, responsible use is the key to rebuilding credit. Late and missed payments show on your report and negatively affect your score. You don’t want this if you declared bankruptcy recently.
An Installment Loan
There are other things to do to boost your borrowing power, and one is to get an installment loan. If you made regular payments on your department store or secured card over the past couple of months, you may want to visit your local bank. Ask what they have on offer. If you get approved for a small installment loan, make regular payments. When it comes to the loan amount, it is always better to be on the safe side and start small. Borrowers with poor credit are usually offered very high interest rates, which adds to the cost of the loan. It is always good to have a credit mix, i.e. personal loans, credit cards, etc. A good mix means diversity and shows financial institutions that you can handle different types of credit. Be careful when applying. Multiple applications can have a negative effect on your score.
Develop Healthy Financial Habits to Deal with Debt
Finally, the most important thing is to develop healthy money and credit management habits to avoid debt and bankruptcy. If you are unsure where to start, you may want to contact a bankruptcy advisor or financial advisor to learn the basics. Your financial advisor will help you learn how to budget, save, and set long- and short-term financial goals. They will help you build a financial cushion (an emergency fund) for a rainy day and emergency situations. A financial advisor will also help you develop a personalized plan based on your individual circumstances. A personalized, step-by-step plan can help you a great deal in terms of rebuilding credit, when to start, what financial products to apply for, and more. When choosing an advisor, make sure you ask whether they offer free information, what services they offer, how much they charge, etc. Ask whether they have monthly or set-up fees.
Once you succeed in rebuilding credit, you will have plenty of choice when it comes to credit cards and loans with attractive terms, low than average rates, and incentives and perks.