Dealing with debt can be overwhelming, and it’s an issue many people face.

According to the Fed’s data, Americans’ collective credit card debt exceeded $1 trillion in Q2 2023—bringing the total household debt to $17.06 trillion.

If you’re a resident of Missouri, understanding your rights is the first step toward financial freedom. And, part of that is knowing the ins and outs of the Show Me State’s statute of limitations on debt.

Missouri statute of limitations on debt

The statute of limitations on debt in Missouri sets a time limit within which creditors can take legal action to collect a debt. This means that, after a certain period, your debt times out.

Knowing these deadlines will help you determine which of your debts may no longer be legally enforceable so you can make informed decisions about your financial situation.

Keep in mind that while these limitations can protect you from legal action, they don't erase your moral obligation to repay debts that you legitimately owe.

Here's a more detailed breakdown of the statute of limitations for different types of debt in the state:

Written contracts

  • Statute of limitations: The statute of limitations for written contracts, including personal loans, credit card agreements, and other agreements put in writing, is ten years.
  • What it means: If you have an unpaid debt related to a written contract, creditors have a maximum of five years from the date of the last payment or account activity to file a lawsuit against you. Once this time period expires, they can no longer sue you to collect the debt.

Oral contracts

  • Statute of limitations: As with written contracts, oral contracts, such as verbal agreements or handshake deals, also have a statute of limitations of five years.
  • What it means: The clock starts ticking from the date of the last payment or activity related to the debt. If five years pass without any activity, the debt becomes "time-barred," and creditors cannot pursue legal action.

Promissory notes

  • Statute of limitations: Promissory notes, commonly used in loans, have a longer statute of limitations in Missouri, and that is ten years.
  • What it means: Creditors have up to ten years from the last payment or activity on the promissory note to file a lawsuit. After this period, they lose their legal right to collect the debt through the courts.

Open accounts (credit cards)

  • Statute of limitations: Open accounts, which typically include credit card debts, also have a five-year statute of limitations. However, it's important to note that this time limit is calculated from the date of the last account activity, which can include any kind of payment or use of the account.
  • What it means: If you have a credit card debt and no activity occurs on the account for five years, the debt becomes time-barred, and creditors cannot sue you to collect it.


  • Statute of limitations: If a creditor has already obtained a judgment against you, they can enforce it for up to ten years. And, they can renew the judgment for an additional ten years.
  • What it means: Even if a judgment has been entered against you, it doesn't necessarily mean you're off the hook. Creditors can continue their collection efforts for a significant period. But be aware of the expiration date for the judgment because they can't enforce it once it expires.

The statute of limitations is just one way out.

As a Missouri resident, there are other debt relief options that can help you regain control of your finances.

Debt relief solutions in Missouri

Now that you have a better understanding of the statute of limitations on debt in Missouri, let's explore some debt relief solutions that can help you manage and eliminate your debts.

  • Debt consolidation loans: Debt consolidation involves taking out a new loan to pay off multiple existing debts. It simplifies your finances by combining all your debts into a single monthly payment. This can make it easier to manage your debt and potentially lower your interest rate.
  • Debt settlement: Debt settlement involves negotiating with your creditors to settle your debts for less than the full amount owed. This option can be helpful if you're struggling to make minimum payments, but it can also have a negative impact on your credit score.
  • Balance transfer credit cards: Some credit cards offer low or zero percent introductory APRs on balance transfers for a specific period. Transferring high-interest debt to one of these cards can help you save on interest charges and pay off your debt faster.
  • Credit counseling: Nonprofit credit counseling agencies in Missouri can provide you with personalized debt management plans and financial counseling to help you regain control of your finances.
  • Bankruptcy: While it should be considered as a last resort, bankruptcy can provide a fresh start for individuals overwhelmed by debt. Consult with a bankruptcy attorney to understand the implications and which type of bankruptcy, such as Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, may be suitable for your situation.

The bottom line

As in any other state, settling your debt in Missouri is all about understanding the laws and exploring your options.

If you have an overdue debt, first study the time limits for debt collection to see if you are still on the hook, legally.

Then consider alternative solutions like consolidation loans and balance transfer cards that can really lighten your financial load without leaving a stain on your credit history.

Before long, you’ll be paving the way to a debt-free future!