Credit card debt can rack up quickly, especially if you’ve been through a job loss, a divorce, a medical problem or another serious difficulty. Seemingly overnight, your monthly payments can skyrocket, your interest rates and fees can explode, and debt can beget much more debt. It’s a very stressful thing to have to deal with.

If you have big credit card debt and you’re trying to understand if Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help you get out of it, the answer is a quick YES … IF you qualify for it. It’s an important IF, but it’s also a resounding YES. Generally speaking, you can get rid of all your credit card debt (and other unsecured debt, such as medical bills and unsecured loans) by filing under Chapter 7.

Discharging your debt

Chapter 7 of the federal bankruptcy code is known as “liquidation,” and it can be used by individuals and businesses to discharge many kinds of debt. Think about the meaning of the word “discharge,” biologically speaking, and apply it to your debt. It goes out and away.

But in order to file for Chapter 7, you must pass what is commonly known as a “means test,” which measures your ability to pay off your debts now or in the relatively near future. If you, in effect, fail that test, you may be able to file under Chapter 13, which is a different thing.

So if I file under Chapter 7, my credit card debt simply goes away?

Basically — if your Chapter 7 petition is successful. There are many factors that must be weighed by your attorney (and ultimately by a federal court) before you file and your credit card debt can be discharged. If you think bankruptcy may be right for you, talk to a professional about the possibilities.