Credit Report & Score

What Is A Charge-Off And How Does It Affect Your Credit Score?

What Is A Charge-Off And How Does It Affect Your Credit Score?
Reviewed by Nima Vahdat
Updated November 1, 2023

A charge-off is a term used in the credit and banking industry to describe an account that a creditor has written off as a loss, typically due to non-payment by the borrower.

A ‘Charge-Off’ can also refer to the action of writing off a bad debt by a company for accounting purposes. This essentially means that the creditor has given up on collecting the debt from the borrower and reports it as a loss on their financial statements.


  • This is a tax-efficient method that helps businesses to reduce tax liability by deducting a particular amount from their income.
  • A charge-off is a negative mark on your credit report.
  • Communication with creditors and seeking professional help can help prevent or manage a charge-off.
  • A charge-off does not mean you no longer owe the debt.

With more and more people relying on credit cards and loans to finance their lifestyles, it’s important to understand what a charge-off is and how it can impact your financial future. Below, you’ll discover the basics of charge-offs, including what they are, how they happen, and what you can do if you find yourself in this situation.

How Does It Work?

When a borrower fails to make payments on a credit account for an extended period of time, typically 180 days or more, the lender may consider the account as a charge-off. Depending on the type of credit account, the specifics of a charge-off can vary.

For example, with a credit card account, the lender may close the account and stop charging interest or fees. In contrast, with a loan account, the lender may demand immediate payment of the remaining balance. It generally depends on the individual lender and their policies. 

That’s why it’s always helpful to review the terms and conditions of your credit account agreement.

However, when it comes to a charge-off for tax purposes, a lender can claim the charged-off debt as a business loss. This means that they can deduct the amount from their taxable income, reducing their overall tax liability. In turn, this can have an impact on the borrower’s credit score and financial standing.

Although the payment is not received and the business officially recognizes the loss, this does not mean that the borrower no longer owes the debt. The lender may continue to collect the charged-off balance by hiring a collection agency or pursuing legal action.

If it is suspected that a previous client will not be able to pay the charge and if the write-off results in a lower tax liability, the lender considers the debt as a bad business debt (lowering the total amount of their profits).

This shows the IRS that they have taken all appropriate measures to collect the charged-off debt but have been unsuccessful in their attempts. It’s an honest and common occurrence in the business world.

As long as proper documentation and procedures are followed, a lender can benefit from deducting the charged-off debt from their taxes. They must also report this to the IRS appropriately. Discussing this with a tax professional is always recommended to ensure that mistakes aren’t made in the process.

What Does A Charge-Off Mean For Your Credit Score?

Having a charge-off on your credit report can have a significant negative impact on your credit score. It signals to potential lenders that you have had difficulty managing your finances in the past. Furthermore, a charge-off stays on your credit report for seven years. 

This can make it more difficult to get approved for new credit or loans in the future.

From the perspective of credit bureaus, a charge-off is considered a serious delinquency because it is generally not the first option for lenders. It is acted upon only when multiple attempts to collect the debt have failed. 

Therefore, it is essential to take steps to improve your credit score after a charge-off.

What Can You Do To Prevent A Charge-Off?

If you have a charge-off on your credit report, it’s not the end of the road. Below are a few options and ideas you can take to manage and potentially improve your credit situation.

Sell Poor-Performing Assets

If you are facing financial difficulties, it may be wise to sell assets that are underperforming or not necessary. This could include an extra car, a second home, or any other luxury items that you can live without. 

By selling these assets, you can use the proceeds to pay off your debts and avoid a charge-off. Simply paying back what is owed is always the best option, and selling assets can help facilitate that.

Communicate With Your Lender

Despite potentially high tensions due to not being paid for services rendered or products delivered, always try to maintain communication with your lender. Most lenders would prefer to avoid a charge-off and will be willing to work with you on a feasible repayment plan. 

This can include reducing the interest rate, extending the payment term, or even forgiving some of the debt. By keeping the lines of communication open and being transparent about your financial situation, you may be able to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

Seek Professional Help

If the debt is overwhelming, consider seeking the help of a professional debt relief service. They can negotiate with creditors on your behalf and potentially lower your overall debt amount or interest rates. 

These professionals can also help you to develop better habits for managing your finances and credit in the future.

Debt Consolidation

Debt consolidation is another strategy, which involves combining all your debts into one loan, often with a lower interest rate. This can simplify your debt repayment process and make it easier to manage. 

Before the business begins the charge-off, try to consolidate the debt, so you don’t get a charge-off on your credit report. If the math checks out and the loan is cheaper than what you currently owe, this may be an appealing option that will help you pay what’s owed and not result in a charge-off.

Shop For Better Lenders Agreements Before Taking Out A Loan

Before taking out a loan, it’s essential to shop around. There are lots of offers for loans that must be compared before agreeing to one. 

A charge-off is often the last resort for lenders, but borrowers who find themselves in this situation may have prevented it by shopping around and paying attention to the agreement details before taking out a loan.

At Americor, we understand the importance of managing your finances wisely. 

As America’s trusted source for debt relief solutions, we aim to empower you with financial knowledge that can lead to informed decisions, whether it’s about savings, investments, or managing debt.

If high-interest debts are impacting your savings, investments, and financial well-being, explore our debt relief solutions, including debt settlement and debt consolidation, to regain control of your financial future.

If your debt has become unmanageable and you have difficulty making your debt payments each month, then you should consider a free consultation call with one of our certified Debt Consultants, who can provide personalized advice tailored to your specific needs.

By taking proactive steps today, you can put an end to your financial stress and work towards a brighter financial future. 

Remember, there is always hope for debt relief, and our team of experienced professionals are ready to guide you on your journey to regaining control of your finances.

For more information on Americor’s debt relief services, contact us today to see how we can help you eliminate your debts, and get on the fast-track to becoming completely debt-free!