Credit card debt forgiveness is when a lender agrees to forgive some or all of your credit card debt. Although it's rare for a lender to cancel all your debt, you can explore options such as bankruptcy and debt settlement to ease your debt burden.

Most borrowers think credit card debt forgiveness means erasing the debt without any consequences. Getting your debt totally erased is very rare, and it requires an extreme measure like bankruptcy. Even then, it comes with several negative long-term consequences.

When you add an annual inflation rate of 3.4%, it's easy to understand why debt forgiveness may seem like such an attractive option for borrowers. While you can’t get your entire credit card debt forgiven, it is possible to get some of it erased in different ways, depending on your personal situation.

Who Qualifies for Credit Card Debt Forgiveness?

There are two main ways you can get credit card debt forgiveness: debt settlement and bankruptcy. 

You can qualify for debt settlement if you owe more than $10,000 on your credit cards and have missed several payments. Usually, lenders are more inclined to accept your settlement offer if they believe there’s no other way to recover the money from you. 

When it comes to bankruptcy, qualification requirements vary based on whether you’re applying for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

You’ll need to pass a means test to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which can be very challenging. Chapter 13 is a reorganization bankruptcy where you’ll need to have a regular source of income that allows you to make payments to lenders for three to five years.

Speak to a bankruptcy lawyer to determine whether it’s right for you and if you qualify.

Understanding Credit Card Debt Forgiveness

Credit card debt forgiveness happens when a credit card company forgives a portion of your debt. When credit card lenders can’t recover the entire amount owed, they may accept a portion of the original debt and forgive the rest. Lenders try to make the best of an unprofitable situation, so they’ll only resort to this option in rare situations.

For example, imagine you owe $10,000 on your credit cards and are eight months late on payments. The bank, by this point, may have assigned your debts to a collection agency to collect on its behalf. This debt is “sold” to an approved debt buyer, in this case, the agency. The bank establishes the parameters for the collection agency in terms of payment, settlement, and conditions.

At this point, you can work with the collection agency to negotiate an agreement to make a lump sum payment that is substantially lower than the current balance due. For example, of the $10,000 due, you might negotiate to repay $6,000 in a single installment, with the remaining $4,000 forgiven. Fees may also be assessed once everything has been settled.

Federal Credit Card Debt Forgiveness

If you have accumulated a lot of credit card debt and are finding it difficult to pay it off, you may be wondering if there is a federal credit card debt forgiveness program that you could qualify for. Unfortunately, the federal government does not manage, sponsor, or fund a debt forgiveness program for credit card debt.

Debt forgiveness exists in the form of debt reduction. Credit card companies will not let you simply walk away from your debt without any consequences. However, with credit card debt negotiations, you may be able to agree on a settlement amount that is acceptable for both parties.

Government debt relief programs do not exist. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers educational resources, advice for debt management, and fraud alerts, but no debt forgiveness programs.

If you are an active-duty service member, you may get better financial terms through the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) of 2003, but this doesn't include any debt relief services. You can always reach out to your credit card issuer to check if they have any financial hardship programs. If you are in a serious debt situation, you may also want to consider bankruptcy.

Business Credit Card Debt Forgiveness

If you're a business owner with a lot of credit card debt, you can explore business debt relief options. If your financial problems are not temporary, you may first want to reach out to your credit card issuer to communicate your situation. Ask if they have a financial hardship program. They may be willing to work with you to help resolve the problem.

For example, you may have acquired the debt to support the growth of your business, but now you can barely keep your business afloat and pay for necessary expenses each month. If you have some money saved up and are willing to offer it right away as a settlement, your credit card company may be willing to accept the offer for, say, 55-60 cents on the dollar. Both you and the lender can walk away with something gained.

You can improve your chances of getting business credit card debt forgiveness if you can provide proof of financial hardship. If your account is already in collections, and you haven’t been able to pay in several months to a year, you may have a better chance of getting a significant amount forgiven. This is particularly true if the statute of limitations has already passed.

The Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection is the time period during which a lender can sue for an outstanding balance. Before you begin negotiations, check the laws in your state.

Debt Settlement

Debt settlement is a good option to consider if you've already missed several payments and are unable to pay off your entire balance. A debt settlement company can negotiate with your credit card issuer to settle your account for significantly less than what you owe. Once the settlement is accepted, you can pay the lump sum amount. The remaining debt will be forgiven, and your account will be closed.


Bankruptcy can get some of your credit card debt forgiven, but it should be your last resort when dealing with debt because it can damage your credit for seven to ten years. 

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a court will discharge your credit card debts, and some of your assets may be sold to pay off your lenders.

In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court will review and approve your creation of a restructured debt repayment plan for you to complete over the next three to five years, during which you can typically pay off at least some of your credit card debt. Once you fulfill the obligations listed in your bankruptcy, you'll have the rest of your debts discharged, and the remaining debt will be forgiven.

How To Apply for Credit Card Debt Forgiveness

Every credit card debt forgiveness program is different and will have different qualification requirements. If you have credit card debt, one of the best things to do is to consult with a debt relief company. Here’s how that works:

  1. A consultant at the company can review your information and suggest the best option for you.
  2. If you're interested in debt settlement and having some of your credit card debt forgiven, the debt settlement company will create a separate savings account for you. 
  3. You can start depositing money in this account each month until you reach the agreed-upon lump sum amount for the settlement payment.
  4. If you're interested in applying for bankruptcy, you’ll need to consult a bankruptcy attorney for advice on how to proceed. 
  5. If you're filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will need to undergo a means test to prove to the bankruptcy court that you legitimately do not have the necessary “means” (or money/assets) to pay your debts.
  6. When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must also demonstrate that you have the ability to make the required debt payments as listed in the reorganized debt plan.
  7. Your bankruptcy lawyer will help you file your bankruptcy petition with the court.

Notice of Credit Card Debt Forgiveness

A notice of credit card debt forgiveness is a formal communication sent by you, to your creditors in writing. This notice can be sent through email or as a physical letter and must include enough information for the credit card company to understand the financial difficulties you are facing.

You should also mention that while you would like to clear your entire outstanding balance, you're not able to do so because of your financial situation. Your notice must also include information about what course of action you propose. Write a compassionate, honest letter to your creditors requesting they forgive all or some of your debt for compassionate reasons.

Impact of Credit Card Debt Forgiveness

Even with your best intentions, it may not be possible for you to pay off your entire credit card debt. In this instance, choose the best credit card debt forgiveness option available to you.

It's important to note that there may be consequences that come along with the benefits of debt forgiveness. For example, debt settlement and bankruptcy can both have a lasting negative impact on your credit reports and FICO scores. The impact of bankruptcy on your credit report can remain for as long as ten (10) years.

Additionally, any canceled or forgiven credit debt that is not discharged as part of a bankruptcy filing is considered ordinary income by the IRS and will be taxable in the year in which you have your debt forgiven. Essentially, if you borrow money from a credit card lender and then the lender agrees to settle and/or forgive any portion of your debt, you’ll have to report this forgiven amount on your tax return as income for the tax year in which your debt is forgiven.

Loan Forgiveness Programs for Credit Card Debt

Unsecured debts such as personal loans may be partly forgiven through debt settlement, hardship programs offered by lenders, and bankruptcy. Those same programs may be used for credit card debt forgiveness. Credit card debt is also unsecured. You can work with a debt relief company to find which program will allow you to save the most money.

How To Negotiate Credit Card Debt Forgiveness

Negotiating with a credit card company or a collection agency on your own is possible, but you’ll need to be careful when negotiating with debt collectors. Before you begin negotiations, educate yourself about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act so you can protect yourself against unfair and deceptive debt collection practices.

Here are a few tips to help you negotiate successfully:

  • Create a list of all your debts, interest rates, and charges
  • Get a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion).
  • Check your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio if you plan to propose a payment plan to ensure your DTI is not so high that it may threaten your ability to repay at any point along the way.
  • Prepare documents that can demonstrate financial hardship
  • Save up for a settlement amount in advance
  • Be assertive, upfront, and clear in your communications when negotiating
  • Get the repayment terms or settlement plan in writing before you begin making payments

Credit Card Debt Forgiveness Plan

You may have been unable to pay your credit card bills due to job loss, reduction in income, or an unexpected life event. Whatever the reason for missed payments and late payments, if you want to resolve your debt, you’ll first need to create a credit card debt forgiveness plan. 

Include the following items on your plan:

  1. Budgeting and Money Management: Consider all your expenses and make a list of your household living expenses and your personal discretionary spending. Create a budget to see how much you can afford to pay towards your credit card debt. 
  2. Consider Joint Credit Cards: Consider the nature of your credit card debt, including joint credit card accounts. Your inability to pay debt may impact a friend or family member. Speak to someone for clarification about laws surrounding joint debts, especially if you are considering bankruptcy.
  3. Proof of Financial Hardship: To make it easier for your creditors to understand your situation, you’ll need to provide some proof, such as a financial hardship letter that explains your employment status change or a letter from a doctor if you have a disability or health situation impacting your ability to pay.
  4. Create a Budget Summary: Prepare a summary of your household budget that states your income, debt obligations, personal expenses, taxes, medical bills, housing costs, and transportation expenses.

Once you have this information ready, you can write a letter to your creditor explaining your situation, proposing a plan, and requesting them to accept your credit card debt forgiveness plan.

Alternatives to Credit Card Debt Forgiveness

So, what can you do if you're struggling with overwhelming debt? While it's typically not possible to get your entire credit card debt forgiven, several effective credit card debt relief options can help you manage your debt better.

Debt Management

A nonprofit credit counseling agency can help you pay off your credit card debt by enrolling you in a debt management plan. Once enrolled, you’ll need to make a single payment each month that the agency distributes to your creditors on your behalf.

A credit counselor can also negotiate with your creditors to waive penalties and late fees or lower the interest rate. Once you enroll in a debt management program, you typically won't be able to open any new lines of credit or credit card accounts. In fact, you may be required to close most, if not all, of your credit lines to avoid racking up additional debt while you’re going through the debt management program to pay it down.

Debt Consolidation

If you have multiple credit cards, debt consolidation is another option to consider. Debt consolidation can help you replace your high-interest credit cards with a 0% balance transfer credit card or a debt consolidation loan at a lower interest rate, effectively “refinancing” your unsecured credit card debt. Once you pay off all your old debts with the proceeds from your debt consolidation loan, you’ll then only have to make a single payment each month on your debt consolidation loan.

This option works best if you still have “fair” to “good” credit (a FICO score of 680 or better). If you can secure a loan at a lower interest rate, debt consolidation can reduce your overall costs and save a considerable amount of money on interest charges.

How To Get Credit Card Debt Forgiveness

Each credit card debt forgiveness program works in a different way. Theoretically, it's possible to get some of your credit card debt partially forgiven. But it will be up to your creditor to decide if they will forgive any debt or not. 

This is one of the reasons why it's important to work with a debt settlement company to determine if a lender is likely to forgive your credit card debt and the settlement amount they are likely to accept.

If you're negotiating with a credit card company or debt collector yourself, be sure to keep a record of all your communications with them, including the date you contacted them and who you talked to. Know your rights as a consumer so you can protect yourself from unfair debt collection practices. 

Once your debt is forgiven, monitor all three of your credit reports regularly to see how it impacts each of your three credit scores. If required, work with a personal finance expert to control your spending habits and work on credit repair, so you can start building a financially secure future.

Credit Card Debt Forgiveness Programs in 2023

The best credit card debt forgiveness program in 2023 is the one that allows you to clear your debt in the most cost-effective way. When looking for a debt forgiveness program, work with a reputed company that has a good track record of helping borrowers in your situation successfully navigate outstanding debts.

Ask about the program they offer, how it works, and what fees you can expect to pay. Weigh the benefits of the savings you’ll get by working with a debt relief company against the fees you’ll pay to use the company’s services to ensure it all makes financial sense to you. 

Ease Your Debt Load With Credit Card Debt Forgiveness

Credit card debt forgiveness can provide you with some major relief, but it can also lead to income tax bills because unless it is exempted under bankruptcy or some other tax-exempted method, forgiven debt must typically be reported as ordinary income on your federal and state income tax returns for that tax year. 

You’ll want to carefully consider all your options, such as debt management, debt consolidation, debt settlement, and bankruptcy, to ensure it's the right choice for your financial situation. Understanding the income tax implications and potential pitfalls is key to determining if it's worth pursuing debt forgiveness.

TurboDebt can help you manage your debt through consultation, planning, and debt relief services. Our debt professionals can help you find the right debt relief option based on your financial situation.

Connect with us today for a free consultation, and read our TurboDebt reviews to see how our debt relief services have helped thousands of clients.