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Known for its stunning landscapes and abundance of nature, Montana is home to 1,122,867 people. As picturesque as the state is, many Montana residents still struggle financially.

The average personal income is $49,340, whereas the national average is $67,521. Meanwhile, the average debt per capita is $56,662 (excluding mortgages). The state also ranks 31st when it comes to poverty at 12.6% — this is an entire percentage point higher than the official national poverty rate.

If you live in Montana and need debt relief or financial assistance, it’s important to know your options. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know if you’re struggling to get back on your feet.

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Montana debt statistics

These recent debt and credit statistics provide an overview of what many Montana residents are facing:

  • Average household debt: $56,662
  • Average student loan debt: $33,149
  • Average credit score: 731
  • Median mortgage payment: $1,386
  • Personal bankruptcies: 132
  • Personal income/Annual mean wage: $49,340
  • Child poverty: 14.5% (ranked 24th)
  • Unemployment: 2.5%

Debt collection laws in Montana

In Montana, only certain entities (or organizations) have to right to collect a debt. Debt collectors — both debt management and debt settlement companies — must also be licensed by the state to operate.

Montana adheres to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a federal law that regulates debt collection in the USA. Under this law, debt collectors cannot:

  • Engage in unfair, deceptive, or manipulative practices to collect money
  • Harass or verbally abuse a borrower to try to collect a debt
  • Make threats (ex. threaten that the borrower will go to jail if they don’t pay)
  • Claim to be a government or legal representative if they’re not
  • Try to collect extra fees, such as interest, that aren’t part of the original debt contract
  • Etc.

If you believe your rights have been violated by a debt collector, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or call (855) 411-2372. Or you can contact the Montana attorney general for help.

Debt relief options for Montana residents

Here are some of the main forms of debt relief in Montana:

  • Debt consolidation: Debt consolidation loans allow you to combine several unsecured debts into one loan with a fixed interest rate and one monthly payment. A debt consolidation loan could make it easier to pay down debt over time.
  • Debt settlement: Debt settlement is a process that involves working with your creditors to reduce how much you owe on your debts. People typically go through a debt settlement company for this.
  • Debt management plan (DMP): Some nonprofit credit counseling agencies have DMPs, which are three- to five-year plans designed to help people manage and pay off their debt. With a DMP, it’s possible to lower interest rates, waive certain fees, and set up a better repayment plan.
  • DIY plans: If you’re dealing with persistent debt collectors, you might be able to negotiate with them yourself for a better repayment plan or interest rate.
  • Bankruptcy: Declaring bankruptcy is generally a last resort, but it could be helpful if you’re drowning in debt and nothing else is working. Consult an attorney about whether you should go this route.

Debt settlement in Montana

A debt settlement company will work with your creditors on your behalf to try to reduce your unsecured debts. When successful, they could potentially reduce your debt by 50% or more.

Debt settlement takes several years to complete. During this time, you may be asked to stop making payments on the debts you’re trying to settle. This could result in late fees and hurt your credit score. But it could also increase your success rate. You might also need to stop using your credit cards, except one for emergencies.

While a professional negotiates with your creditors, you’ll typically need to make regular payments into a secured account. Once a creditor agrees to settle a debt, the company will pay them from that account — usually in a lump sum.

A debt settlement plan may be right for you if your only other option is to file for bankruptcy. This could occur if you’ve fallen behind on bills, can’t make multiple monthly payments, or are using expensive credit cards or loans for your daily expenses.

Debt settlement could help with different unsecured debts, including:

  • Department store cards
  • Credit cards
  • Personal lines of credit
  • Personal loans
  • Student loans in default
  • Old judgments

Montana debt settlement companies

Debt settlement can be complicated and time-consuming, so it might be worth your while to go through a company. Here are some reputable debt settlement — and debt relief — companies in Montana to consider:

Debt settlement attorneys

If you’re undergoing the debt settlement process, or if you’re considering it, one of these experienced attorneys might help:

Debt resources for Montana residents facing hardship

Montana offers a variety of debt relief programs and financial resources to help residents in need. Some of these resources are federally funded, while others are available at the state level only. Options include help with:

  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Utility bills
  • Low-cost or pro bono legal support
  • Healthcare costs
  • Childcare assistance

State hardship programs

If debt relief isn’t what you need, here are some of Montana’s major state hardship programs:

  • Montana Housing: This program, also known as Montana Emergency Rental Assistance Program, was a temporary program designed to provide assistance to people impacted by the pandemic. This assistance could be used for rent, utilities, and certain fees. The program stopped accepting applications after January 20, 2023.
  • Single Family Housing Repair and Grants Program: The Section 504 Home Repair program provides loans to very low-income homeowners. These loans are meant to innovate or repair the home, as well as to remove hazards from around the home.
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program:  This short-term relief program helps cover winter utility bills for low-income households. A similar program, the Low Income Home Water Assistance Program, helps with water utility bills.
  • Healthy Montana Kids: This program provides low to zero-cost health insurance to eligible children from low-income households.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): SNAP helps low-income families pay for food. You can access your benefits using the Montana Access Card, a debit card you can use at most grocery stores.
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): This cash assistance program provides short-term assistance to low-income families. Benefits last a maximum of 60 months.
  • Combined Application Projects: CAPs primarily helps low-income seniors apply for several programs at once — namely, Social Security and food stamps.
  • WIC: The Women, Infants, and Children program provides supplemental aid to low-income women with children and pregnant women to help with food and nutrition costs.
  • Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers (MSFW) Program: MSFW strives to help migrants working in the agriculture industry. Similarly, the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP) helps seasonally employed farmworkers and their families and migrant workers gain economic sufficiency.

Food assistance

Montana also has some food banks and food pantries designed to help combat hunger. About 90,200 people in Montana — or 1 in 12 residents — are still facing hunger. Among these people, an estimated 1 in 7 children also struggles with food and nutrition.

Here’s a list of some of the more prominent food banks and pantries in Montana:

Income and employment in Montana

The unemployment rate in Montana was 12.20% in April 2020. Now, it’s only 2.50% — this is an entire percentage point below the national rate. Currently, Montana ranks 28th in terms of job growth with 13,600 new jobs.

Montana does not have right-to-work laws. This means that you might need to join a labor union and pay dues as a condition of employment. It also does not have employment-at-will laws. This means that an employer cannot legally fire you after the probationary period without reasonable cause.

How to apply for unemployment benefits in Montana

Applying for unemployment benefits in Montana is simple. Head to the Department of Labor & Industry website, select “Unemployment Claimant,” and scroll down to see the available resources. You should see options ranging from eligibility requirements to filing for unemployment.

Check your eligibility status before beginning the process. Among other things, you’ll need to be physically and mentally able to work. You’ll also need to provide your reason for no longer working, as well as employment information from the past 12 to 18 months. When filing your initial claim, you’ll need to provide certain personal, employment, and banking information.

Next, create an account and register at Once you have an account, you can sign up for UI benefits, file claims, and look for work.

You must send in at least one job application or resume each week to continue receiving benefits. You can do this online, in person, or through the mail.

Banking and taxes in Montana

Montana has a graduated personal income tax ranging from 1% to 6.75%. Here’s the basic breakdown (based on income amounts):

  • $0 to $3,300 = 1% of your income is taxable
  • $3,300 to $5,800 = 2% of your income is taxable minus $33
  • $5,800 to $8,900 = 3% of your income is taxable minus $91
  • $8,900 to $12,000 = 4% of your income is taxable minus $180
  • $12,000 to $15,400 = 5% of your income is taxable minus $300
  • $15,400 to $19,800 = 6% of your income is taxable minus $454
  • Anything over $19,800 = 6.75% of your income is taxable minus $603

As of 2021, 3% of Montana residents are unbanked. This means that nobody in the household has a checking or savings account from a bank or credit union.

Montana housing market

The owner-occupied housing unit rate in Montana is 69.1%. The average home value in the state is $420,572, which is significantly higher than the national average of $327,514.

The median mortgage payment is $1,558. Meanwhile, the median rent payment is $1,750. These amounts may be different based on where you live in the state, the square footage of your dwelling, and its quality.

When Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act, $9.961 billion went toward helping homeowners across the United States remain in their homes. The Montana Homeowners Assistance Fund is part of this Act. To be eligible, you must own your home, reside in Montana, make a certain maximum income, and be affected by COVID-19.

Retirement in Montana

Montana is known as a good place to retire due to its tax-friendly laws and overall lower tax burden compared to the rest of the country. However, the average resident still needs $712,314 to retire comfortably and maintain a similar standard of living to their working years.

Average Montana insurance premiums

The cost of full coverage car insurance in Montana costs $1,737 a year. This is nearly $145 a month, which is standard in the USA.

The average homeowner insurance premium — for $250,000 dwelling coverage — is $1,957 a year. This is slightly higher than the national average.

Payday lending status in Montana: Legal

Payday loans are prohibited in many states, but they’re still legal in Montana. A typical payday loan in Montana looks like this:

  • Maximum loan amount: $300
  • Maximum Interest Rate (APR): 36%
  • Minimum loan term: N/A
  • Maximum loan term: 31 days

Statute of limitations on debt in Montana

The statute of limitations on debt is the time in which a debt collector can legally sue you to try to get money. In Montana, it ranges from four to 10 years on most debts.

  • Medical debt: 8 years
  • Credit card: 5 years
  • Auto loan debt: 4 years
  • State tax debt: 10 years

Help for Veterans 

An estimated 89,275 Veterans live in Montana. The Montana Department of Veteran Affairs offers various resources and programs to Veterans and their families living in Montana. These resources can help those who would otherwise be facing homelessness, unemployment or other hardships.

VA Montana also has Women Veteran Care, which helps female veterans and their families find quality health care. This includes primary care, ultrasounds, mental healthcare, counseling, gynecology care, and more.

Facilities in Montana

Need a VA facility in Montana? Here are some of the main ones:

Employment resources for Veterans

Whether you’re an active military member or a Veteran, you could benefit from certain employment and training resources in Montana. If you need help finding work, here are a few other resources to check out:

  • CareerOneStop offers job-related support and helps Vets find civilian jobs
  • serves as a platform where Veterans can upload their resumes and apply for work
  • helps Vets via virtual career fairs, an online recruitment center, and employment opportunities
  • Helmets to Hardhats helps Veterans and active military members transition into civilian jobs in the construction industry
  • Hiring Our Heroes helps Veterans through job training and networking
  • My Next Move also helps Vets find civilian employment
  • Warriors to Work offers career-related resources such as job counseling and resume help

The bottom line

Whether you need Montana debt relief or financial assistance in other areas of life, you have options. Check with your local or state government website to see what’s available to you, and what the eligibility requirements for different programs are. If you need help with debt, consider speaking with a nonprofit credit counselor or attorney.


How long can a debt be collected in Montana?

Most written contracts have a statute of limitations of four to 10 years. This means a debt collector cannot try to take you to court to collect the money. They can still pursue you for the debt, however.

When does the statute of limitations begin in Montana?

Typically, the clock starts on the date of your last transaction on the account.

Am I responsible for my spouse’s debt if I get divorced in Montana?

You are not usually responsible for your spouse’s debts unless the debt was incurred on behalf of the family. However, Montana is considered an equitable division state, meaning that a court could split assets and debts fairly but not necessarily 50/50. This means you could still end up paying a portion of your spouse’s debt.

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