Puerto Rico Debt Relief
17 MIN READ
Published April 17, 2023 | Updated August 28, 2023
In a Nutshell
With a population of over three million, Puerto Rico is the biggest U.S. Territory and boasts more residents than some states. Home to lush tropical landscapes and a beautiful coastline, Puerto Rico is also a popular tourist destination.
Despite the inviting tropical environment, the island’s poverty rate far exceeds the national average, with 40% of the population living below the poverty line. Puerto Rico is just now coming out of a debt crisis worth billions in public and private funds that stifled economic progress for years.
For those calling the island home, it can be difficult to rise above the financial strain of living in a low-income situation. Let the experts at TurboDebt help you explore the best options available today with a free consultation. Read on to get the full picture of debt in Puerto Rico and why many residents are in need of debt relief.
An Economic Overview of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is known for its breathtaking topography, rainforests, waterfalls, beaches, and mountains. The island has also suffered physical and financial hardship from recent hurricanes, including Irma and Maria.
Puerto Rico has one of the strongest economies in the Caribbean. It includes a diverse industrial sector that has surpassed agriculture as the primary source of economic activity and income. U.S. firms and tourism are both important sources of income for Puerto Rico and are a large part of its economic growth.
While the island is prosperous, its residents are still wracking up debt. In an inflationary economy, many island residents find themselves struggling with secured and unsecured debts from credit cards, medical bills, and mortgages. Thankfully, there are debt relief solutions available to Puerto Rico residents. In this article, we share more about Puerto Rico's debt relief options and how they work.
How Does Debt Relief Work in Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico debt relief works by addressing an individual’s unique financial situation. This can include several different strategies aimed at reducing payment amounts, pausing penalty fees, extending the length of repayment terms, or a combination of these factors.
Debt and Finance Statistics Specific to Puerto Rico
Here are some of the most relevant statistics related to Puerto Rico’s debt and economic conditions:
Average Consumer Debt
The average consumer debt in the state of Puerto Rico includes mortgage, credit card, student loan, and auto loan debts. On the whole, Puerto Ricans struggle with financial stability more than residents who live in one of the 50 states, with 1.4 million people living below the federal poverty line.
Credit Card Debt
Millennial residents of Puerto Rico carry an average credit card debt of $41,940, one of the lowest among the U.S. states and territories in that age group.
However, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) estimates that 22% of Puerto Ricans pay late fees on credit cards. Once you get into a cycle of late payments, it’s hard to escape the cycle of debt.
Auto Loan Debt
Although their credit card debt may be lower than in some states, Puerto Rican millennials carry some of the highest auto loan debt, averaging $22,205 per individual.
Puerto Ricans have seen home values and interest rates rise just like the rest of the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau lists the average home value as $111,800. While this may seem reasonable, the poverty rate in Puerto Rico makes it difficult for many to afford a home.
Student Loan Debt
Residents of Puerto Rico who’ve pursued higher education owe an average student loan debt of $28,242.
In Puerto Rico, household debt is influenced mainly by mortgage payments, credit card debt, and auto loans. Due to the economic changes after the pandemic, Puerto Rico has seen an increase in household debt. Household debt considers the debt-to-income ratio of a household, calculating how much more people spend than they bring in.
In 2022, Puerto Rico residents filed 3,945 bankruptcy petitions. Most individuals filed for either Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy to absolve or restructure debts through the court system.
Average Income and Employment
According to the U.S. Census, Puerto Rico’s median household income is $21,967.This is a staggering difference from the rest of the U.S., which sits at $69,021.
Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate continues to increase, as further proof of the financial struggles so many face across the island. In July of 2023, unemployment rose to 6.2% in Puerto Rico, almost double the national rate.
The main industries in Puerto Rico are manufacturing, which includes pharmaceuticals, textiles, petrochemicals, and electronics. Other common industries are services, such as finance, insurance, real estate, and tourism.
As an unincorporated part of the United States, Puerto Rico is subject to American financial requirements and trends from Wall Street in New York, including credit scores. Residents of Puerto Rico have the same credit opportunities as those on the mainland. The average credit score in Puerto Rico was 689 as of 2021.
Many Puerto Ricans have been the target of identity theft, although the incidents of having your identity stolen are smaller than most other places in the United States. In fact, Puerto Rico actually ranks 49th in the states with the highest amount of identity theft, with just 47 cases annually.
Banking and Tax Info
There are currently 17 banking institutions operating branches throughout Puerto Rico. Each bank has a number of features and services to serve the Puerto Rican community.
Puerto Rico has a well-developed banking system that is regulated by the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions. The office is responsible for the supervision and examination of all banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions operating in the country.
The banking system of Puerto Rico includes a few large banks, including FirstBank, Banco Popular, and Santander Bank, as well as a number of smaller banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions that provide specialized services and cater to specific market segments.
Puerto Rican residents are taxed on their worldwide income, no matter where their income is from. Puerto Rican non-residents are only taxed in Puerto Rico on their Puerto Rico-source income. Income for services performed is sourced to Puerto Rico based on where the services are performed.
The current income tax rate in Puerto Rico follows these guidelines:
- Income between $9,000-$25,000 has a 7% tax rate of income over $9,000.
- Income between $25,00-$41,500 has a 14% tax rate of income over $25,000.
- Income between $41,500-$61,500 has a 25% tax rate of income over $41,500.
- Income over $61,500 has a 33% tax rate of income over $61,500.
How TurboDebt Helped Puerto Rico Get Debt Relief in 2022
TurboDebt is a debt relief company that provides Puerto Rican residents with a fresh financial start through our effective debt relief program.
In 2022, we helped 256 total clients in Puerto Rico, enrolling 65 in our debt relief program. Residents enrolled a total debt of $1,434,830, with an average client debt of $22,074.
Top Types of Debt To Get Relief From in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico residents with growing debts can enroll with TurboDebt to find debt relief through settlement and advising services. Read on to learn about the top types of debt to enroll in a debt relief program:
Credit Card Debt
High interest rates and late payment fees have caused financial difficulties for many Puerto Rico residents, leading many to search for debt relief options.
Increased rates have made it difficult for Puerto Rican residents to manage their credit card debt. With high APRs of up to 30%, residents of Puerto Rico have been struggling with their debt, which continues to accumulate. Residents are experiencing many past-due penalty fees and are struggling to make on-time monthly payments.
TurboDebt is focused on helping people in Puerto Rico with their credit card debt. We want to assist residents in achieving a debt-free life. Enrolling in our debt relief program can help residents of Puerto Rico find freedom from credit card debt in as little as two to four years.
In Puerto Rico, a divorce action only involves the dissolution of the marital union. Therefore, a divorce case in Puerto Rico ends the marriage but does not involve other areas, such as the division of marital assets, divorce debts, and child custody.
To determine the division of divorce debts in Puerto Rico, parties must file another case. In the new case, both assets and debts are divided. The case involves a type of legal entity that is not used often in the United States, called the “Sociedad de Bienes Gananciales.” All the assets and liabilities are held in this entity during the divorce and the division process until the court dissolves it.
You may end up with divorce debt if the court decides to divide your partner’s personal loans or if you have taken out debts together. During this process, you may want to get legal advice about the factors involved in the division of marital debt.
By enrolling in a TurboDebt debt settlement plan, you can tackle your divorce debts. This divorce debt relief option offers individuals a chance to get help and move on.
There are many businesses in Puerto Rico, thanks to the island’s tax policies for relocating businesses. In Puerto Rico, taxes are kept low for certain businesses and individuals. Under the Act 60 Export Services Tax Incentive, a qualified new business enjoys a corporate tax rate of only 4%, which is lower than the 21% corporate tax rate on the mainland.
With plenty of reasons to open a business in Puerto Rico, many owners find themselves with business debt. If you have business debt in Puerto Rico, you can find relief through TurboDebt’s relief programs.
At TurboDebt, we help Puerto Rican business owners address their debt through advising and money management and by helping individuals choose a debt relief plan.
In Puerto Rico, residents can hold insurance or receive medical care through the government-run program called Vital, which provides insurance and healthcare for those who cannot afford it. With 7.1% of the population lacking health insurance, medical debt is an unfortunate reality for many.
Residents of Puerto Rico who are not on the government’s Vital program are responsible for their own medical costs. When paying for insurance and healthcare on their own, many people find themselves with growing medical debt. If medical debt is left unpaid, it continues to accumulate and cause a big financial strain.
At TurboDebt, we have a team of experts that can help you with your medical debt. By enrolling in a debt settlement program, you could receive an average savings of up to 50% of your total debt before fees.
As with the states on the Mainland, Puerto Rico’s housing market has been impacted by the pandemic. Housing prices and interest rates continue to rise while homeowners struggle to make their house payments due to rising economic costs. Many homeowners are struggling with debts related to homes, including costs of building materials, house payments, loans, and more.
Let TurboDebt help you make a plan to overcome homeowner debt so you can start rebuilding your wealth!
Puerto Rico residents and retiree transplants to the island may find themselves with retirement debt once they start living on a fixed income. This occurs when their cost of living after retirement is too high, and they are unable to meet financial obligations, causing them to go into retirement debt. This can also be due to pension liabilities and mismanaged hedge funds.
Retirement in Puerto Rico should be a time to relax and enjoy yourself. However, if you find yourself in debt after retirement, it can be hard to settle down and stop struggling. Fortunately, TurboDebt has a team of experts who can help retirees get on track with their finances in order to address retirement debt. When you work with TurboDebt, you can find relief, budget your income, and free yourself to enjoy retirement.
Puerto Rico Debt Relief Options
The following debt relief options available in Puerto Rico are among the most popular and effective solutions for paying off debt:
Credit counseling gives you advice and guidance about credit, finances, and debt management. The goal is to give you the information you need to make better decisions about your finances and debt, as well as to find a debt management program that can help you with your financial situation. With credit counseling, you can receive help negotiating a pause on penalty fees, lower interest rates, and lower monthly payments.
Debt Management Programs
Debt management programs are typically offered by credit counseling organizations. Once you enroll in a program, credit counselors will recommend the best course of action for you. Often, the most effective programs involve negotiating for reduced interest rates or waived fees on unsecured debts.
This debt relief option can be helpful for high-interest credit card debts because these programs lower interest rates and create one monthly payment for those who have multiple credit cards. To qualify, you’re usually required to close your existing credit cards to avoid accruing new debt, make consistent monthly payments to a savings account, and commit to a repayment plan lasting between 3 to 5 years.
Debt Consolidation Loans
With debt consolidation, you take a large loan to pay off your existing debts in a single lump sum payment, leaving you with only one debt. Consolidating debts into one and clearing your many debts helps your credit and saves you money by eliminating multiple interest fees, reducing monthly payments, and lowering interest rates.
However, it’s important to make sure that your repayment plan doesn’t have high interest fees as a result of an extended repayment period.
Debt settlement is a partial debt cancellation on current debt balances. This debt relief option works best for Puerto Rican residents who are having financial difficulties and have fallen behind on their monthly payments.
When you choose this option, you agree to make a lump sum payment to debt collectors or lenders as a way of settling your debt. The amount agreed upon for settlement can often be around half of the existing balance. After you’ve paid the lump sum, your debt is eliminated.
Filing for bankruptcy is often a final option for Puerto Ricans seeking debt relief. Bankruptcy’s long impact gives most debtors pause, as it affects their credit report for 7 to 10 years, making it difficult to obtain new loans. Still, filing for bankruptcy may be the best option because it can eliminate debt or create a reasonable repayment plan.
There are three types of bankruptcies to consider: Chapters 7, 11, and 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcies settle unsecured debt by liquidating your nonexempt properties and paying off debt balances. Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructures repayment plans without affecting business operations and is available for businesses with too much debt.
Chapter 13 bankruptcies work best for businesses and individuals who can manage debt payments with a consistent monthly income. Their assets and nonexempt properties aren’t liquidated if they stick to the repayment plan.
Debt forgiveness programs are offered by federal and state governments as an option for debt relief. These programs can eliminate an individual’s debt completely if they meet specific requirements. Available debt forgiveness programs include federal loans, student loans, teacher loans, and public service loans.
Debt and Financial Hardship Resources
Residents of Puerto Rico who are experiencing financial difficulties may need assistance. Help available on the island includes homeless assistance, medical care, transportation assistance, child care, and food assistance.
Temporary Assistance Programs
The TANF is a cash assistance program available to low-income families for up to 60 months. The program is created to help families build a safe and healthy home with all essential needs met. It helps eligible people avoid homelessness and take care of their families. Although Puerto Rico is unincorporated, it still receives a TANF grant in order to help those in need on the island.
State Health and Human Services
In Puerto Rico, the Department of Health provides many services for people in need, such as:
- Medicaid, which offers medical insurance and healthcare to low-income families.
- Vital provides healthcare to low-income individuals and families in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico Child Care provides assistance in paying for child care services.
Shelters for the Homeless
DRS provides help finding homeless shelters in Puerto Rico. In addition, HUD has resources for helping the homeless in the country.
Finding Debt Relief in Puerto Rico
If you’re a resident of Puerto Rico in need of debt relief, contact the experts at TurboDebt. We can help you determine the best program for your needs and ensure that you find relief while having peace of mind.
With so many options, doing your due diligence is essential when pursuing debt relief. Take the time to talk to our team and learn about our experience and what we can do for you.
Get started today with a free debt relief consultation and learn how TurboDebt can help you get relief in Puerto Rico.