Are Charge Offs Bad on Credit Report?

Updated on

If you’ve ever had a credit card, you probably heard the term “charge off.” But what does it mean? Charge-offs happen when a credit card company decides it’s not worth collecting the money owed on a debt. When this happens, the account is considered “charged off,” and the debt is transferred to a collection agency. So, how do charge-offs affect your credit?

Charge-offs will stay on your credit report for seven years and negatively impact your credit score.  They drastically reduce your overall credit score. Moreover, getting new lines of credit with a charge-off on your record will be very difficult. If you can get new lines of credit, the interest rates will likely be very high.

If you want to learn more about how charge-offs affect your credit, you need to understand how charge-offs work and what you can do to avoid them. Read on to learn more.

What is a Charge Off?

A charge-off is a designation given to a debt when the creditor believes that the debt is unlikely to be repaid. This can happen for various reasons, but typically it occurs when a borrower has missed several payments, and the creditor feels that further attempts to collect payment are not worth the effort. Once a debt is designated as a charge-off, it will appear on the borrower’s credit report as a negative mark, making it challenging to obtain new lines of credit.

In some cases, the creditor may sell the debt to a collection agency, which may then attempt to collect payment from the borrower. However, it is important to note that a charge-off does not relieve the borrower of their responsibility to repay the debt; the debt will still need to be repaid even if it is charged off the account.

Charge-Off Debt

A charge-off is a debt that has been deemed uncollectible by a creditor. This usually happens when a borrower has missed consecutive payments in a row, and the creditor decides to write off the debt as a loss. Charge-offs can stay on your credit report for up to seven years and badly hurt your credit score. If you have a charge-off on your credit report, you must understand your options for dealing with the debt.

One option for dealing with a charge-off is to try to negotiate with the creditor. Another option for dealing with a charge-off is to dispute the debt with the credit reporting agencies. These two options will be discussed in detail later in the article. 

Charge-Off vs. Collections

The terms “charge-off” and “collection” are often used interchangeably, but there is a big difference between the two. 

A charge-off occurs when a creditor decides that an outstanding debt is unlikely to be repaid and therefore writes it off as a loss. This usually happens after 180 days of non-payment. This can happen with any type of debt, including credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages. Once a debt is charged off, the creditor reports it to the credit bureau as a debt that has been paid in full.

On the other hand, a collection occurs when a creditor or debt collector attempts to collect payment on a debt owed. This can happen even if the debt has not yet been charged off. Collection activity can include a creditor calling you on the phone to demand payment from a debt collector and sending you a written notice. If a debt goes into collection, it’s reported to the credit bureau as an outstanding debt.

Charge-offs and collections can both have a severe negative impact on your credit score. They are both considered to be very serious delinquencies. So you must try to avoid them both if possible.

Paying Out a Charge-Off

A charge-off occurs when a creditor believes you will never pay off your debt. The creditor will then write the debt off as a loss on their books. However, this doesn’t mean you are no longer responsible for the debt. The debt will still appear on your credit report, and the creditor may continue to try to collect from you.

When you pay off a charge-off, the status changes from “charged-off” to “paid charge-off,” which is still negative but not as damaging as an unpaid charge-off. You can also negotiate with the lender to remove the charged-off debt from your credit report if you pay it in full.

If you have a charge-off on your credit report, you may wonder how to get rid of it. Here are some tips on how to pay off a charge-off:

Call The Creditor

When you fall behind on a payment, the creditor will likely try to contact you to collect. Once the debt is written off as a charge-off, they may no longer attempt to collect. This doesn’t mean you don’t owe the debt; it just means the creditor has given up on trying to collect from you.

If you’re still receiving calls from a debt collector after the charge-off, you can tell them to stop calling. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you can request that a debt collector cease contact with you.

Negotiate A Settlement

Once a debt is charged off, the creditor may be willing to settle for less than the total amount you owe. This is because they’ve written the debt off as a loss, so they’re not expecting to get paid back in full.

You can call the creditor to negotiate a settlement and explain your financial situation. Offer to pay a lump sum that’s less than the full amount you owe. If the creditor agrees, get the agreement in writing before you make any payments.

Pay For Delete

Sometimes, a creditor may agree to remove the charge-off from your credit report if you pay the debt in full. This is called a “pay for delete” agreement.

Before you agree to anything, make sure you get the agreement in writing. Once you’ve made the payment, follow up with the creditor to ensure they’ve removed the charge-off from your credit report.

Wait It Out

If you don’t have the money to pay off the debt in full, or you can’t get the creditor to agree to a settlement or pay for deletion, your only option is to wait it out. A charge-off will remain on your credit report for seven years from when it was first reported late. After that, it will fall off your report and no longer impact your credit score. 

In the meantime, you can work on building up your credit so you’re better when the charge-off falls off your report. Pay your other bills on time, and keep your credit utilization low.

Effects of Charge-Offs on Credit Scores

Charge-offs have a more damaging effect on your score than late payments. The effects of charge-offs on your credit score depend on several factors, including your payment history and credit utilization.

  • If you have a history of making late payments, the impact of a charge-off on your credit score will be more significant. On the other hand, if you have a good payment history, the effect of a charge-off will be less severe.
  • The amount of debt you have relative to your credit limits also affects the impact of a charge-off on your credit score. If you carry a lot of debt, a charge-off will have a bigger impact than if you’re not using much of your available credit.
  • The older a charge-off is, the less impact it will have on your credit score. So, if you have a charge-off from a few years ago, it won’t have as much of an effect on your score as a more recent charge-off.
  • The effect of charge-off also depends on the type of debt that was charged off and the rest of your credit history. For example, a charge-off for a credit card debt will typically have a less severe impact than a charge-off for a mortgage or auto loan. This is because credit card debt is generally considered less risky than other types of debt.

If you have a strong credit history with no other negative marks, the impact of a charge-off will likely be less severe. However, if you have an account of late payments or other adverse effects on your credit report, the impact of a charge-off will likely be more severe.

Length of Stay

The average length of stay (LOS) of a credit card charge-off is about seven years. This is the time from when the account first becomes delinquent until it is paid off or written off by the lender. After a charge-off, the account will remain on your credit report for up to seven years. The LOS may be shorter or longer depending on the type of account and the lender.

How to Remove a Charge-Off From Credit Reports?

If you have a charge-off on your credit report, there are a few things you can do to try to remove it. First, you can dispute the information with the credit reporting agency if you believe it is inaccurate. Second, you can negotiate with the creditor or collection agency to remove the charge-off from your report. Here is how. 

Dispute Incorrect or Questionable Info

If you believe incorrect or questionable information is on your credit report, you can dispute it with the credit reporting agency. To dispute a charge-off on your credit report, you will need to send a letter to the credit reporting agency displaying the incorrect information. 

In the letter, you should include your name, address, and Social Security number and a copy of your credit report with the disputed charge-off highlighted. You should also explain why you believe the charge-off is incorrect and include any supporting documentation that you have.

Once the credit reporting agency receives your dispute letter, they will investigate the claim and determine whether or not the charge-off should be removed from your credit report. If they find the charge-off incorrect, they will remove it from your report and notify all three major credit reporting agencies of the correction.

If you have been unsuccessful in removing a charge-off from your credit report, you may consider hiring a professional credit repair company to help you. These companies specialize in assisting people to improve their credit scores and can often get negative items, such as charge-offs, removed from credit reports.

Negotiate with a Creditor/Collection Agency

If the charge-off is accurate, but you believe that you can negotiate with the creditor or collection agency to have it removed, you can try to do so. Often, creditors and collection agencies are willing to remove charge-offs from credit reports if the debt is paid in full. 

  • You can also try to negotiate a partial payment plan where the creditor agrees to remove the charge-off once you have made a certain number of payments. If you can successfully deal with the creditor or collection agency, ensure to get everything in writing to provide proof to the credit reporting agencies.
  • You may be able to come to an agreement that includes making regular payments on the debt until it is paid off. You may also get the creditor to agree to remove the charge-off from your credit report if you make all the payments on time.

If you cannot negotiate with the creditor or get the charge-off removed from your credit report, you can still work on improving your credit score. You can do this by making all your payments on time, maintaining a good credit utilization ratio, and keeping your credit history positive.

Tips to Avoid Charge-Offs

You can always take precautions to avoid charge-offs and maintain your credit score. Here are some tips to prevent charge-offs:

Work Out a Payment Plan

If you find yourself falling behind on your bills, the first thing you should do is contact your creditors and try to work out a payment plan. Many creditors are willing to work with you to help you get back on track.

Create a Budget

Creating a budget can be a helpful way to get a handle on your finances and spending. When you know where your money is going, it can be easier to make adjustments to ensure that you have enough money to cover your bills.

Talk to a Financial Counselor

If you’re struggling to manage your finances, talking to a financial counselor can be helpful. Financial counselors can help you create a budget, work out a payment plan, and make other changes to improve your financial situation. So, if you’re facing the same, don’t hesitate to seek help from a financial counselor.

Seek Legal Help

If you’re facing legal action from a creditor, it’s important to seek legal help. An attorney can advise you of your rights and help you navigate the legal process. This will help you in avoiding the worst-case scenarios of facing check-offs.  


Should I Pay a 6-Year-Old Charge-Off?

No, you should not. Paying off a charge-off will not remove it from your credit report. Additionally, it will not improve your credit score. In fact, paying off a charge-off can negatively impact your credit score because it will add to your debt-to-income ratio.

If you are trying to improve your credit score, you should focus on other things, such as paying your bills on time and maintaining a good credit utilization ratio. You can also try negotiating with the creditor to remove the charge-off from your credit report. This is known as a pay-for-delete agreement. Under this agreement, you would pay the creditor the total amount owed in exchange for having the charge-off removed from your credit report.

Can a Charge-Off be Reversed?

Technically, a charge-off can be reversed if the creditor changes their mind or if you make arrangements to pay off the debt. However, it’s important to note that a charge-off will remain on your credit report for seven years from the date of the first missed payment, even if it is reversed. Therefore, it’s generally not worth trying to reverse a charge-off.

If you can pay off the debt, you may be able to negotiate with the creditor to have the charge-off removed from your credit report. However, even if you cannot pay off the debt, there are still steps you can take to improve your credit score.

Can Original Creditor Remove Charge-Off?

There is no guarantee that an original creditor will remove a charge-off from your credit report, but it is possible. If you have paid off the debt, you can request that the creditor remove the charge-off from your report. The creditor may not be willing to do so, but it is worth a try. If the creditor agrees to remove the charge-off, it will likely improve your credit score.

Do I Still Owe Money on a Closed Account?

If you have a closed account, you are not responsible for any further payments to the account. However, if you have a negative balance on the account, you may still be responsible for paying that amount. Check with your lender for their policy on closed accounts with negative balances. Contact a credit counseling agency to get more information if you’re unsure about your responsibility.


So, what have you learned? Charge-offs are serious and can affect your credit score for years. But if you stay on top of your payments and keep tabs on your credit report, you can minimize the damage a charge-off does to your credit rating. You can take steps to ensure that they don’t harm your credit score and future borrowing prospects. 

Make sure you keep updated on your credit score and rating, so you are aware of any changes. Stay current on your payments and try to maintain a good payment history. And if you need help getting back on track, consider talking to a financial advisor or credit counseling service.