For 182 million Americans, credit card bills are a monthly burden to the tune of hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Once you start building up too high of a balance, more and more of your monthly payments will go toward interest alone, creating a snowball effect until you can no longer afford to pay the bill. But what happens when you stop paying credit cards entirely? There are both financial and credit impacts of skipping out on your bill that can have significant lasting implications on your finances.

Financial impacts

You’ll have a higher balance: Your credit card balance may seem high if you’re not practicing responsible use of your card. But once you stop paying, the balance will only get higher. Even if you no longer pay for items with the card, interest and fees (detailed next) will continue to drive your total balance up.

You’ll accumulated interest: Since interest is calculated as a percentage of your total credit card balance, as your balance increases, so does the amount of interest you owe. If you stop paying your credit card bills, the total interest you need to pay off will only accumulate.

You may pay late fees: Nearly all banks charge late fees that increase as you cross the 30, 60, 90 and even 180-day mark. These late fees can really add up over time if you discontinue payments entirely. We should note that there are cards which waive the late fee for your first missed payment or never charge late fees.

There may be a penalty APR: When you were approved for your credit card, you were given an APR based on your creditworthiness. But if you read the terms carefully, you might find a second interest rate called a penalty APR. This is a higher interest rate that the bank can impose if you don’t pay your bill on time. Similar to late fees, there are cards that waive the penalty APR for your first missed payment or entirely.

Your wages may be garnished: If you go for long enough without paying your credit card bill, your wages can eventually be garnished to pay off the debt. This can be bad news if you’re living paycheck to paycheck as payments are taken directly from your take-home pay before you can even touch it.

Credit impacts

Late payments will be reported: If you’re late on a credit card payment by at least 30 days, this will go on your credit report. While one late payment might not hurt you too badly, a pattern of failing to pay your bill on time will seriously knock down your credit score.

Your account may go to collections: After a certain amount of time without receiving payment, your credit card issuer will send your balance to collections. This usually starts internally with a dedicated department that will try to contact you and convince you to pay your bill. While the nonstop phone calls might seem invasive, this is what happens when you stop paying your credit card. Still, you should know your rights when it comes to debt collectors.

Your debt could be charged-off: If your bank is unable to get you to pay your credit card bill themselves, they might sell the debt to a third party in what is called a charge-off. This could eventually land you in court to face the consequences of nonpayment.

What to do if you can’t pay your bill

If you find yourself unable to come up with the cash for your monthly credit card bill, simply ignoring the due date is not the best option. Call your bank and explain the situation, asking to come up with a more affordable repayment plan. Many creditors will be willing to work with you as long as it means getting their money back without having to chase you down for it.

When credit card bills become a significant burden, it’s also time to reexamine your spending habits. Take a close look at your budget and see where you can cut costs to free up funds for debt repayment. You should also work on a long-term plan to minimize spending and prevent more unmanageable credit card debt in the future.

We’ve explained what happens when you stop paying your credit card, and why neglecting your bill isn’t a good idea. Failure to make credit card payments has lasting impacts on your finances and credit score that can make it difficult to get approved for loans, mortgages and even apartments in the future. Instead of stopping payments, try to work out a long-term plan to get your credit card debt paid down.