Law Office of Ruth Nelson - Seattle Bankruptcy Attorney
Law Office of Ruth Nelson
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What Can Bankruptcy Do For Me?

Should I pay off medical bills before credit card debt?

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2015 | Credit Card Debt

In the world of debt reduction all debt is not created equally. Nor should Washington residents weigh it equally when it comes time to paying it down.

Many people get into financial difficulties when they struggle to pay off both types of debt. In most circumstances accruing vast amounts of unsecured credit card debt is considered to be the more devastating to a consumer’s credit that a mountain of unpaid medical bills. For one, medical bills generally result from some type of medical crisis and are not necessarily reflective of irresponsible spending. The newest FICO 9 debt scoring model indicates that having medical debt in collections doesn’t ding credit ratings as much as credit card debt will.

One strategy is to open a zero transfer balance credit card account and trying to negotiate with creditors to accept only a portion of the debt as payment. Credit card debt and medical debt may both bring interest penalties, but the interest rates for credit card debt is usually quite a bit higher.

Consumers can pay down their credit card debt during the initial interest-free timeframe and meanwhile, they can go over their medical bills with a fine-toothed comb looking for discrepancies, errors and over-billings. Asking creditors for itemized bills and scrupulously reviewing them may bring about thousands in reduced charges.

It can be more difficult to negotiate with medical providers over old medical debts, so initiate the conversation with the billing agents as soon as you are physically able.

If despite all attempts at negotiation with creditors, a consumer’s debt still remains unmanageable, it may be time to look at some bankruptcy options to wipe the slate clean. A Washington bankruptcy law attorney is a good source of answers.

Source:, “Credit Card Debt vs. Medical Debt: Which Should You Pay off First?” Erin El Issa, Dec. 22, 2014

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