I Owe Amex and Best Buy and No Longer Live in the U.S.


Dear Steve,

My debt is almost $28k with Amex on 4 cards.

I came to Europe in Sept 2020 for 6 weeks; the world became so crazy, I did not go back. I am married to a European citizen who is not a signatory on any of the cards.

I have no job, no savings. I have an additional debt of back rent $15k, Best Buy Visa $10,500. I am current with Best Buy.

My son just lent me $27k on a promissory demand note to buy a fixer-upper, jointly with a local European citizen.

Amex is suing me – Zwicker has 3 cards, and they are the ones who are suing.

Mark Sank has one card. They both proposed insane monthly payments.

What to do, please?

Stay safe



Dear Esmerelda,

These situations are always problematic to answer because the logical answer is counterintuitive for most people.

If I suggest you don’t do anything about the situation, some people will become enraged that I’m suggesting some immoral action and that you have a primary duty to repay your debt.

I’m more of a pragmatist, and if I had a magic wand, you’d have a lot of extra cash at hand and could repay or settle your debt. All would be perfect.

But it is absolutely not a perfect world. My experience has shown me that it is unlikely you will suddenly get a job making enough to deal with all of this.

The primary issue here is your income is insufficient to make any promises to pay. You appear to be unable to sustain any payment plan. You have no savings either.

So, let me tell you some blunt facts, and you can decide what to do from there.

The odds of your being chased overseas over a U.S. debt are slim to none. International collections really don’t exist for U.S. creditors and overseas debtors.

Since you are already being sued in the United States, you will lose by default since you are out of the country and probably not coming back or making legal arrangements to defend yourself in the current lawsuits. They will then attempt to get a judgment against you, which they will not be able to collect on unless you have some lingering bank accounts they want to try and levy.

If you have some debts in default and court, keeping the Best Buy card current does not make logical sense.

Being outside the country can pause the Statute of Limitations clock, and these debts might have a long shelf life here in the United States. However, that will not prevent you from traveling to the United States. You will be able to enter and leave. Border security does not enforce civil legal issues.

If you decide to move back to the U.S. at some point in the future and the debts are still an issue, you could file bankruptcy then to get a fresh start.

At this point, you made choices that led us to today. It’s time to stop trying to fix the past and instead fix the future.

If you are going to stay in the EU, then you need to look at what you will need to do to qualify for a pension plan as a citizen. Building an emergency savings account and starting to save for retirement would be my primary concerns give the facts you shared with me.

My opinion is the old debt you left in the U.S. is just going to end in default, so you might as well embrace that reality and start focusing on the future.

If I find my magic income wand, I’ll let you know.


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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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