Can Credit Card Companies Go After You If You Leave The Country?


Also See: What Happens To My Debt When I Leave Canada?

Also See: Can I Leave Singapore With Credit Card Debt and What If I Want To Return?

We just had this email from another reader:

I have several credit cards with balances on them here in the US. I am about to be transfered back to the UK for work (I am from the UK, not a US citizen), and so will not be using my US issued CC’s again. If I do not pay them off, do you know if the companies (visa and mastercard) will try to retrieve the money once they realise I am not intending to repay it? I know if will ding my credit score here in the US, but I don’t care about that.

John Mathews

Answers – John – let’s go over the procedure of what happens when you stop paying your credit card bills.

  • 1. After 60 days, most credit card issuers report your late payment to the credit bureaus – That is when you credit score gets dingged.
  • 2. They normally sell it to an external collection agency after that – some have in house collection agencies, many start the process of selling their uncollectible debt.
  • 3. You start getting calls from collectors – This is when the harassment starts for most folks
  • 4. Your creditors might sue or threaten to sue you
  • 5. Once you are past the statute of limitations, creditors cannot come after you – could be as short as 4 years in some states or 7 years on others
  • Disclaimer : This is not legal advice but just our opinions.

    John, since you are leaving the country, I doubt that the creditors will come after you. They certainly cannot call you! They won’t be able to track you down. But if you ever get sued, you would need proper legal advice especially if you are out of the country.

    But here’s the issue I have with the email you sent us. You did not say anyway that you are in financial trouble. All you said is that you are from the UK and your company has sent you back. So presumably, you have a job. If you have a job, and are financially capable of paying off your credit card bill, then please pay it off. Society runs based on a certain level of trust. If every foreign worker were to leave and just not pay their credit card bills, then credit card issuers will never issuer to them at all? If you are capable of paying off your debt, then please do so. It is the proper thing to do.

    If you have lost your job and are relocated back and have financial difficulty, then that is another issuer altogether.

    Oh and one more thing: if there is ever a judgement against you, you may have to disclose that if you ever want to work here again.

    Here is another email from a reader with a similar situation:

    I am from Pakistan, i was working for an insurance company, the company layoff more then 1000+ emp, i am 1 of them, this was last year dec 2008. i am planning to go back to my country, i actually owe more then $30,000, i cannot pay off every thing coz i only have $2500 in my bank, i am really in a very bad status, i have been trying to find a job for past 6 months. i have 2 daughter & 2 sons back home, i am not able to feed them or my self, so i want to go back to my country & try to find some work there. so what can i do about the credit card debt. what happens if i don’t pay? can they hold me in Pakistan… or if i pay very slow with that affect my status. coz $30000 is a lot. please help me to find a way out of this debt.

    kevin khan

    Answer: Kevin – for your situation, I would consult an immigration attorney. I doubt you will ever be asked to leave this country or have your status affected if you do not pay your credit card bills or even if you file for bankruptcy.

    I also doubt if you can ever be arrested in Pakistan if you do not pay your credit card bills here. You won’t get arrested here though you will certainly be harassed by tons of collection agencies!

    But look, you have $30,000 in debt and only $2500 in savings. You just cannot afford to pay them. Simple as that. Question for you is do you ever intend to come back here and work? If you do, then you’d better consult your immigration attorney on how your financial situation may impact your ability to get a Visa down the road.

    Best of luck to you.

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    34 Responses to “Can Credit Card Companies Go After You If You Leave The Country?”

    1. Andrew Says:

      Although you have the same credit beaureas between the UK and the US (i.e. experian etc), credit does not appear to travel with you. I say this as a British expat living in America. I had a great credit rating in the UK, but had to build one once I got to the US. I have read of many people having frustration with this. Theoretically the same should be true in this chaps situation. However, I would also question his ethics, especially as it effects others who live as expats, and perhaps him if he ever decides he wants to work or perhaps even travel in the US again. I wouldn’t want to get off an airplane in the US if I have evaded a debt, you never know what may follow you. (Orange jumpsuit anybody!)

    2. C. R. B. Says:

      Recently Amex has recently cancelled my business line of credit. I continue to pay the monthly bill even though the business has been sold. I receive income from the sold business with which to pay the bill. I am retired and Amex has increased the interest rate so that instead of 300/month interest, it is now 600. I cannot afford to pay this. I have tried to discuss this with them to no avail. Can they pursue me in Mexico? This is not a decision I take lightly, but I don’t have the extra money. I understand that the interest rate was variable, but I can’t afford it. I can continue to pay, but it must be at the old rate and they say NO. I really do believe that credit card companies are creating many of the nonpayment issues by raising the rates arbitrarily.

    3. Sloth Says:

      hi, I have similar problem with john.. im not a us citizen and worked in the us for a couple of years,,, had a credit card debt of about $500… (i know its tiny but it just bothers me) and i left the country coz my visa had expired at that time (about 3 years go)..
      but the thing is this,,, my colleague has juz recently opened a business in chicago and ask me to help him out…

      the question is,,, what’s gonna happen if i were to apply for the visa,, and if i ever got one,,, will they stop me in the airport’s immigration and put me in jail..?


    4. haitham kanunji Says:

      dear sir hi and pls if u can help with my situation i lived in saud arabia and suddenly my saudi sponser did not pay us for a year and i was using my gredit cards there and then i could not pay them when i returned to lebanon so what could happen thank you

    5. lyn Says:

      I have a question as well. I have about $40,000 owing on credit cards here in the US. I have been unemployed and looking for work for the past 2 years, and have been unsuccessful. The last company I worked for didn’t pay me and just disappeared. I am a Canadian Citizen and Legal Alien in the US. I have been struggling to pay off this debt and was managing from savings. However they are depleted and I still have no job. My mother is very ill and my sister has terminal cancer. They need my help so I am going back to Canada to care for them. Can the American Credit Card Companies sue me in another country if I find I cannot pay the debt, especially with the increased interest rate?

    6. Valerie Conway Says:

      Hi, I have a similar question. My visa expires Dec 13th and my company isn’t renewing it. Thus, I have no job and no visa. I am leaving the country as required by immigration. However, I have credit card debts and a car finance loan to pay. I can pay off the debts but I have had to borrow money from my family in the UK to pay for all the moving/shipping costs and a tax bill I also received. I have absolutely no savings whatsoever and, once I get back to the UK, no job there either and will have to live with family. What will happen when I tell the car finance company that I will have to surrender the car? I had a bad accident in it last year which is on the carfax so no-one will touch it with a barge-pole and the finance company will get a lot less than it’s worth at auction. It will leave me with approximately $7k that I will owe. As I said I have absolutely no savings whatsover. Will I be followed back to the UK? Will I have a problem coming back to the US just to visit friends? Thanks for help people…

    7. freddie Says:

      All your advices are very helpful? But I have a different case that i need to ask for advices, Pls help me? This is my case..I have credit cards debt in singapore approximately 60K singapore dollars, I left singapore last 2009 due to company restructuring ( i was retrenched by the company) . I’m in Philippines right now and until now still unemployed.? What happened if I will go back to Spore to work? And what happen if will arrive in Spore Airport, will the immigration officer will arrest me? I have also other option to work in other country, Is it recorded to other country ?Pls HELP

    8. Mars Says:

      Freddie and Alex.
      I have the same situation. But you need to be educated well, meaning, know the law before you react or overreact. The best way of course is to settle, telling the banks that you can only afford this much of payment every month. They should have no choice but to accept it. It will be good if you hire people who can help you with debt settlement.

      Having said that, you may be in situation where you can not really pay whatsoever. So if you go back to Phils, there is no way they can extradite you to Singapore!!!! It only applies to criminal cases, but very specific crimes – like murder, money launderding, etc.

      But remember though, just dont go back there especially to work as you will be probably declared bankrupt in singapore. goodluck

    9. saif Says:

      ileft Saudi Arabia in 2010, with an unpaid credit card an i plan to go back to Saudi soon.

      What can happen?
      How can i pay my credit card and once i pay it from my country, can i go to Saudi again?

    10. grace sanchez Says:

      hi,have the same problem iam immigrant here in canada .planing to move to usa cant pay off my credit card worth 25thousand dollar….does my bad credit score will follow me?

    11. OPF Says:

      Dear PLz help me out … i was working in KSA and suddenly i have to come back for vacation , during my vacation period i got sick and not go back to KSA and my company terminate me. and due to illness i have no money to pa back. Now i have a good job opertunity in KSA and want to go back and also want to settle my debit can you please if i go there and immigration department will catch me or… if i want to nogotiate with bank and ask them take half payment now and remaining i will pay in next one year is that possible for them

    12. Tanapong Ounpigul Says:

      I am a international student and I had use status call “OPT” and it almost gone.In my case I can’t pay off my credit card I had use around $4,000 because the immigration do not allow my to live here if i do not get full time job.

      I have to go back to my country (Thailand)

      What should I do? because this case immigration does not allow me to live here

    13. anndelei Says:

      Hi, I just needed to ask hopefully you can help me. I went to singapore march and I started working there and was able to get a loan from 2 banks. One bank is OCBC, i have loan and 3 credit cards from OCBC which have a shared limit. The problem is I was only able to pay for I think 4 or 5 0r 6 times in a row for OCBC, I came to singapore with my husband unfortunately his working pass is not approved by their ministry of labor, so we decided to take another loan from UOB which is my 2nd bank, I was only able to pay them I think once or twice and then nothing followed. During September we came here as tourist and tried to find job in abu dhabi but I wasn’t expecting that their offer is very lees than what Im earning in SG. So the problem started from there, I couldn’t afford to pay my debts until now and they started to send me email & calling me to ask when I will settle because the acct. is closed. I am trying to negotiate but they are asking 10% or 15% if im not making a mistake as an upfront fee and after I pay it I can do monthly installment again.The thing is I cannot afford to pay the initial upfront fee right away, they wouldn’t agree on it, both banks is demanding me to pay the said upfront fees. I informed them I am only earning very less so I cannot afford to pay right away the upfront fee, I told them I am willing to pay slowly till I complete the full amount. Some guy send me email that they are acting on behalf of the bank and that if I will not pay they will do legal proceeding for me. Im scared if they will hire some third party here in abu dhabi & might cause me trouble here. Totally I owe one bank 14,600 singapore dollar, and the other bank 7,300 singapore dollar. If I will just pay any amount that I can afford until I settle the full amount from both banks you think its possible? Are they going to get a third party here from abu dhabi to sue me or anything? I didnt issue any checks at all by the way. But before I asked to temporarily increase my credit limit and they granted but its only 1000 singapore dollar extra. So thats it, hope I can find a serious answer here.

    14. ryan Says:


      I was hoping you could help me out.

      I am a Canadian citizen who now lives and works in Canada. During the 2000’s, I lived and worked in the UK. I left the UK in 2008 with approximately 10k in credit card debt. I am currently paying minimum payments on the cards and I also have a bank account still active in the UK. The credit card companies and banks in the UK know of an old address I used to live at in Canada during 2010 and they all know my email addresses. Further, I have transferred money from my Canadian bank account to my UK bank account.

      The question: If i stop paying off my credit cards, what can happen? Can my canadian credit score take a hit? Legal action? I ran a credit report about 4 months ago and the uk cards didnt show up on it. However, if i stop paying the minimum payments and close my uk bank account, am i going to be hasseled?

      Thank you and please feel free to email me privately as well.

    15. Dennis Says:

      I have the same question with Ryan.

      What would happen to my 7k us credit card debt if I stopped paying.

      I am both a Taiwan and US citizen, living
      And working in Taiwan.

      It just sucks that the exchange rate for the credit card debt is eating up my monthly income earnings.

      Cost of living is lower in Taiwan and so are the wages.

    16. James Says:

      If you move overseas, if you dont leave a trail, if any relative where you used to live is tough enough to return any mail unopened, or simply to tell whoever calls that they dont know where you are, then you probably dont have anything to worry about. I know of a young lady who moved to Canada in 2006 with several thousand pounds worth of debt. She moved back to the UK in 2007 when things just didnt work out. As far as I know, she moved to Wales, having previously lived in London. I gather from her emails that she has lived there ever since and hasnt heard a word from her creditors. I suspect that the creditors look for a short period, then settle with their insurance companies, sell the debt to a Debt Chaser, who in turn goes for the easy ones. I would suspect that as long as you didnt apply for credit, put yourself on the electoral role and didnt contact any previous banks or creditors, you probably would be ok. If they do find you, then negotiate a payout. Once they do find you, you will either have to disappear again or just face up to it and as I said, negotiate a way out.

    17. George Says:

      I wonder if you can give me some info on this. I am from the UK. Some years ago I went to work in Bermuda on contract. Unfortunately before my contract finished I became ill and had to return to the UK. I left behind a Credit Card Debt of about $8,000. I know I will never be able to pay this as my financial situation in the UK is not that great even though when I left Bermuda I still paid a few instalments. Time went by and I now realise that I will never be able to pay this debt off. I am now in my late 50s.

      They have contacted me through an old unused email chasing me for payment but I have never replied. I am not sure what to do as I know it is pointless telling them that I am in no financial situation to pay this ever as they will never nderstand. Can they take me to Court?


    18. Linley Says:

      Hi, I am Malaysian used to work in Singapore. I have 3 credit cards and 1 credit line which total up the outstanding balance of about 25k Singapore dollars. I just lost my job 2 months ago, and can’t find a job until now. My friend asked me to just leave Singapore and forget about the outstanding balance.

      Would I be filed bankruptcy by the banks? Would it affect if I work in Malaysia or other country? Will the banks go to my Malaysia’s residential address to look me up on the debts? Can I enter to Singapore again as a tourist or when I able to pay them the debts?

      I really don’t feel like to do so, this will be the last option if I really can’t find a job in Singapore.

      Hope to have your advice.


    19. mary r Says:

      Hi i have a question i have court date for not paying my credit card, i been sue. What will happen to me that day of court do i have to pay the hole amount or can i pay in payments, or it depends in what the judge says. Please help me advice me what can i do.wll they put me a judgement order even if im willing to pay them but in payments. Im from Texas, thank u any help plz.

    20. kewlclint Says:

      Hi Linley,

      I have the same problem like yours, did you ever contact the bank to settle the matters? maybe negotiate for a repayment perhaps?

    21. sunny Says:

      I am a Indian National currently residing in UK from past three years.I have to move to USA immediately for some reasons and i owe almost 3000pounds debt of credit cards and phone contracts…What will gonna happen.Are they going to chase me in USA or does it has any impact on my USA credit score

    22. Linley Says:

      Hi kewlclint

      yes i hv contacted the bank in singapore, but since i still dont have a job in m’sia i couldn’t follow the repayment scheme, what happen if i dont pay my debt for more than 6 months ? thanks in advance

    23. linda Says:

      When you leave the country all 3 credit agencies delete all of your records. If you come back a few years later, you must start all over again building a credit rating and it will then be short, they do NOT store them in a warehouse on tape or CD, they delete all record of them. So watch out, if you are leaving, take copies of your last TransUnion etc. statements just before you leave to show lender when you get back, US lenders are totally unaware of this situation.

    24. nels Says:

      Mr Credit Card, I am on chapter 13 program and I can no longer pay monthly as promised. I have retired and receiving $665 social security benefits. What happens if I move overseas. I am a naturalized american citizen. One more thing, I pay $350 a month to the trustees.

    25. Ganesh Says:

      Hi. I’m student I have to leav now because my immigration rolls.
      I have my credit card balance 1250£ and I have 2 contract phone. If I go to my county they will follow me or what happen. Pls let me know

    26. Ally Says:

      Hi Linley,
      I’m facing the same problem as well. I have another question though. If I’m owing HSBC and Citibank in Singapore, can I still open HSBC or Citibank saving account in Thailand or other countries? I am asking this because my new company credit the payroll to HSBC or Citibank. Hope someone can give me some advice here. Thanks.

    27. Marcus Says:

      I used to live in UK 10 years back, had some dues with CC and personal loan amounting to not more than 10,000 pounds. due to internet bubble burst after september 11th, I was made redundant and was jobless for 6 months. I had no means to pay my debt and had to leave the country in distress. As per Limitation Act 1980 Section 5 the alleged debt is Statute Barred. Its been 10 years and now I plan to visit UK or may have opportunity to get transfered to UK through my current work. Will I be arrested prosecuted / tracked by creditor / external agencies or harassed during my short visit. Do you recommend me to payback my debt if I plan for long stay – if so what is process I should follow to do this more civilised way. What if I do not pay at all

    28. Shime Says:

      Hi. I just wanna ask. I studied and work in singapore last 2010 to 2011. One of the bank they have this promo of 500 dollrs credit card. Since i am one of their card holders, i applied and 2 of my friends. I used it and was to credit limit and was able to pay it twice. So thats $1000. On my 3rd time to use the cc. I think i used more than $400 something, thats the time my work permit is going to end, and when my boss tried to renew it, they declined it. Now im in my own country. And its been 1 yr 3 mos. I wanna go back and try my luck to loom for a better job agai . My question is, since we used our passport to apply for the atm before which is connected to my cc, will they see that if i enter sjngapore? Are they going to take me in jail for that $400 debt? I really wanna go back there and have a better job. Pls response soon.

    29. raj Says:

      Hello. I’m in deep trouble and the only option left for me is Suicide. I just can’t think of anything to overcome the hassle I created by myself. Im so stupid that I trusted someone wholeheartedly broke me into pieces. I came to USA in 2009 on a F1 student visa , borrowed money from my family members for my education and living expenses since I cannot work here being on a F1 visa. I graduated and received an OPT visa which allowed me to work for 1 year. I found ajob, started working , got a decent pay , everything was perfect. I almost paid off 50% of loan that I borrowed from my family members back home. I met a girl who I fell in love with. She had financial trouble, had no job and her mother was sick. I helped her out with some bills she loved me too. we started living together i used to pay for almost all her bills. We decided to get married. I took the responsibility of all the wedding expenses and I thought once I marry her I will be able to work here life long as she is an American citizen and I can pay of my debt easily. she borrowed some cash for her mothers medical expenses and i thought everything was smooth and after marriage we both can work and pay off our debt together. but soon our debt turned into my debt. She cheated me . she never wanted to marry me , it was all for the money . Infact she had a boyfriend. I was so blind to trust her . all the debt came upto 45k. My visa expires next month and I can’t live here legally. all I can do is go back home to india , find a job and try to clear the debt as much i can . I even have to pay my family but they will understand and give me some more time. The problem is I will end up making a very less amount in india and it will be hard to pay off this huge debt. I read on the internet that If I go back to india the companies will try to get the help of the consulate in india and try to find me. Will I be jailed? I do not plan to come to USA ever because I wont get the visa again. The copy of passport i submitted to the bank has my address backhome , will they come to me and chase me in india? The debt is not from 1 company but from different credit card companies. I know the credit card companies will sue me and give me the date to appear in the court, and if I miss attending the court ( since I will be in india) , will I be charged for failure to appear? will I be a criminal? Will I be jailed in india? If I do not pay them will I be able to live peacefully in india without any problem? Will there be any restriction for travel if incase I want to travel to dubai or china or any random country other than north america? Once I reach india, should I call the creditors and ask them to reduce the debt and give me some more time so that i Can pay them back? I just dont want to be a criminal. and I fully understand it was all my mistake. Please help me out. should I file bankruptcy, how long will it take ? I have to leave next month.
      im a resident of georgia and my age is 24 . Please Please give me a solution.

    30. mohan Says:

      I was in UK for the past 3 years and cameback to India last month. I had a very good credit rating but somehow before coming back I got a phone worth £500 pounds on contract and now there is no money in my UK bank.If I want to apply for Canada immigration now, will it make any impact on my visa processing. Will the Canadian authorities check my credit history of UK also. Kindly help. I should tell you I could not save a single penny and gave everything back to the UK what I earned in the form of utilities, taxes etc and still being a very eligible immigrant (highly qualified, paying taxes, bils etc in time) I was refused the visa.The visa fees which was almost 2000 pounds went in vain as I had applied this time with my wife and kids.
      The anger over all this made me do this act which I know was not right but I also wanted to cheat them as the the visa officer has given so absurd reasons to refuse our visa which are not at all acceptable.
      Kindly reply

    31. Sue Says:

      I have left Australia in 2008 leaving around 100.000 credit cards debt.
      I want to come back as my mother elderly and her medical condition is getting worse.
      Would they stop me at the airport?? I am scared as i need to deal with all these issues and my mother;s health.


    32. mark Says:

      I work in saudi arabia I filed my final exit.Still i have unpaid credit in my credit card, does unpaid credit will make any trouble in airport. pls advice anyone

    33. Sam patel Says:

      Hi my name is Sam and I been at Australia 2 year ago and I m not pay ing my cradit card dabit. And I not paying my Mobil bill . So if I wan a come to Australia . Any probalm with emigration .

    34. yogen Says:

      Im from Nepal & Singapore PR. Im planning to migrate to Australia soon but here in Singapore I have a credit card & bank loan debt around S$20 thousand and I won’t be able to pay. Am I still able to migrate leaving my debt behind? Will I be get traced & chased? I

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