My girlfriend is a US-Spanish dual citizen. She has been racking up credit card debt (60K, 7 credit cards). She used to make payments for a long time but she just lost her job and can't anymore. I told her she will be okay, but she told me she might be in trouble because she inflated her income when she applied for the cards. Now she is very scared. What can she do? Will the credit card companies sue her for fraud? Can she still go to the USA for vacation? I'm really scared for her.

  • 2
    Travel.SE might be a better spot for "Can she still go to the USA for vacation?"
    – RonJohn
    Jun 13, 2019 at 15:41
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    Let me warn you, as soon as she figures out how to get some European credit cards, she will max them out (and have no way to pay them off). If you plan any sort of long-term relationship with her, you need to get her into both financial planning and psychological support programs. Jun 14, 2019 at 1:19

3 Answers 3


Let's deal with these issues one at a time.

Having unpaid debts will not result in your girlfriend being refused admittance to the US. As a citizen she cannot be prevented from entering the US. Nor can she have her citizenship removed because of debt.

If she returns to the US then she may be pursued by the credit card companies, or by debt collection agencies. This is somewhat unlikely to be a problem if she only visits the US. A company is unlikely to find out she is there in time to take action. She should be aware that unpaid debt will be a major problem if she tries to live in the US again. In that case the companies will likely attempt to collect the debt. She will be unable to get credit cards, or finance a car or a house, and will have problems renting an apartment, until enough time has passed that they are removed from her records.

Debts do not go away, so she could be pursued to repay this at any time in the future. She might consider declaring bankruptcy instead, which has the disadvantage of some serious consequences now, does mean that eventually the issues will go away and she has a clean credit record.

She should also be aware that leaving the country does not remove the obligation to pay the debt. The credit card companies can choose to collect the debt even outside the US, though most do not. She should probably be aware that many people will consider borrowing money and then fleeing before paying it back to be tantamount to theft. It will not be looked on favourably.

Inflating her income is indeed fraud, and while it is unlikely for a company to pursue that issue they could do. A warrant could then be issued, resulting in her arrest if she returned to the US.

And addressing you rather than her, someone who has racked up this much debt once is likely to do it again. Take this into account in your relationship, and I strongly recommend not cosigning credit with her or going into debt on her behalf.


I don't think we can answer the US vacation part (Travel.SE covers something similar already), but the debt part is on-topic.

If she's deep in debt, what you want to do is

  1. Cut up the cards and stop using them
  2. Contact the companies and explain the situation. Try to work out something now. If she just defaults it will make working something out later much harder. While there isn't much they can do if she lives full-time in Spain, they can seize any US assets she has, and it will destroy her credit. That will make life much harder for her if she ever needs to use the US banking system again.

Adding on to DJClayworth's answer, the main problem is that the creditors will declare delinquency on the debt, which basically means that they have no expectation of ever getting that money back. They will typically also sell the debt to a debt-collection agency, which will make your girlfriend's life hell in trying to recollect the debt (contact the FTC if that happens, they're limited in what they can do).

This also stays on her credit score for 7 years, potentially longer, making it next-to-impossible to do anything that requires even remotely average credit, like applying for a car loan (which I doubt is a good idea anyways), renting, or getting a job (since many employers check credit).

Declaring bankruptcy is an option, which stays on the report for 7 to 10 years, depending on if its a chapter 7 (liquidate everything to pay debts) or chapter 13 (reorganise, and pay for 3-5 more years) and a bunch of other factors I'm not really sure about. There are no good options here, so pick whatever seems the least bad. If she has little assets, a chapter 7 might be a good idea.

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    "making it next-to-impossible to do anything that requires even remotely average credit" in this latest bull market and credit bubble, I've read on forums like myFico that users with bankruptcys are getting approved for mortgages less than 2 years afterwards
    – CQM
    Jun 14, 2019 at 18:42
  • "contact the FTC if that happens, they're limited in what they can do". Not if she isn't in the US. Jun 14, 2019 at 19:02
  • Do employer's still stress out over applicants with credit card debt, or is that an artifact of the 'old economy' when jobs were scarce? Jan 15, 2020 at 19:56

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