I’m Retiring with Credit Card Debt I Cannot Afford. – Terri

“Dear Michael,

I will retiring in 2015 and I only owe American express and I can’t pay them since my only source is social security and will be moving to Mexico. I understand they can’t get my social security. Do I still need to file with the courts on this debt?


Dear Terri,

Whether or not you have to concern yourself with notifying anyone about your inability to continue paying your American Express credit card can depend on your answers to some of my questions:

Are you current with your payments to AMEX now?

If you are not current with payments, when did you stop making them?

If you are current, when is it that you retire?

When is it that you will relocate to Mexico?

What state do you live in now?

How to navigate credit card bills with a fixed income.

When you stop making credit card payments matters. If you can be sued, or already have been, and there is a judgment in the courts, you still have to navigate that until your fixed income is protected because it comes from an exempt source (whether you retire in Mexico or stay put).

The state you live in now has certain exemptions that may be helpful to know for your planning. And if you are making minimum payments to AMEX today, when and how you decide to stop making payments can be impacted by when it is you retire, and when you actually leave the US.

Will you continue with the same checking account at the same bank you have now, once you land in Mexico? Can you think of any reason you will have additional money, other than social security, deposited into that checking account? If so, it may be better to open up a different account that is exclusive to social security deposits. It can be at the same bank you have now if you prefer it.

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What prompted your concern about notifying the courts regarding not paying this debt, and the fact you will soon be on a fixed income?

Post your answers in a comment reply below and lets go from there.

Anyone concerned about retiring with unaffordable credit card payments is welcome to post in the comments for helpful feedback.

Michael Bovee founded CRN, a unique company offering debt negotiation education and services, in 2004. Bovee has been contributing articles and free reader feedback on this site for several years.

Michael is a debt industry professional who has volunteered his time to help answer reader questions.

If you have a debt related question you’d like to ask our team, just use the online form.

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