More than 700,000 Americans went through personal bankruptcy filings last year according to a recent LendingTree study. The reasons for doing so vary wildly, but job losses, medical expenses, and credit card debt are some of the most common. Going through personal bankruptcy may be the only way for some people to get back on their financial feet, but the result is often disastrous for their credit.
But how much do low credit scores and bankruptcies actually add to the cost of a loan? Let's take a look at the LendingTree data to see how much more people pay for car, home, and personal loans after they go through a personal bankruptcy.
How much more you'll pay on a car loan
Borrowers who file for bankruptcy can expect to pay an additional $2,171 over the course of a five-year, $15,000 loan compared to those who don't have a bankruptcy. As with most types of loans, the lower your credit score, the higher your interest rate. A borrower who filed for bankruptcy just one year ago might receive an interest rate of 10.3% for an auto loan, while someone without a bankruptcy would have a 7.8% interest rate for the same loan, according to LendingTree.
The longer a borrower waits to take out a loan, the better their credit score usually gets and the more money they'll save. For example, if a borrower waits two years after their bankruptcy to take out a $15,000 auto loan, as opposed to waiting just one year, they'll pay just $799 more than the average person instead of $2,171 more.
This is how much more personal loans will cost
Personal loans are usually sums of money that are borrowed without any collateral (like a car or house) and are also referred to as "unsecured" loans. They often come with higher interest rates because there's no physical asset for the lender to take back if the borrower doesn't pay. Borrowers who file for bankruptcy just a year before taking out a personal loan will pay, on average, $1,426 more on a three-year, $10,000 loan.
Borrowers can save a lot of money by waiting a little longer to take out these loans, as well -- just like they can with the auto loans. Five years after a bankruptcy, the added cost is just $287 more than if the borrower hadn't gone through it.
Mortgage costs go up, too
The LendingTree research showed that mortgage terms on a 30-year, $240,995 loan cost significantly more for those with previous bankruptcies. For example, a person with a bankruptcy three years ago would pay, on average, $8,887 more over the life of that loan than someone who didn't have a bankruptcy. The cost drops by more than $2,800 if the borrower waits an additional two years before applying for a mortgage .
The increased cost of the mortgage is tied to a borrower's credit score, of course, and the good news for people who've gone through bankruptcy is that the credit score holds far more weight with lenders than the bankruptcy itself. For example, the study found that mortgage borrowers who have gone through a bankruptcy three years ago received interest rates (about 4.29%) that were somewhat comparable to borrowers who haven't experienced a bankruptcy (4.12%), based on 2017 figures.
It all comes down to your credit score
You've probably noticed the common thread running through all of these scenarios: The lower a borrower's credit score, the higher their interest rate will be and the more they'll have to pay on their loans. That's not exactly earth-shattering news, but it should at least be a little comforting to people who've gone through a bankruptcy because there are concrete actions you can take to improve your score.
Boosting your credit score won't happen overnight, but LendingTree found that 65% of borrowers had improved their credit score to 640 just two years after a bankruptcy, and it went up to 672, on average, after five years. That means that within five years, many borrowers who experienced a bankruptcy have improved their credit scores so much they start closing in on the national average credit score of 692.
If you're thinking of filing for bankruptcy, you may want to consider all of your options before doing so. And if you're building back your credit score after a previous bankruptcy, here a few tips that might help.