Should defaulters feel bad? I've been thinking about this a lot lately. A number of people have made the argument to me that the credit system is morally neutral, at lest from the point of view of the debtor. The banks knew when they lent to you that there was a risk of default, and if you do, you pay the penalties. Why feel guilty? They don't, for selling you the rope with which you hung yourself.
To some extent, I actually agree with this. Though I'll also note that if you default, the worst thing that generally happens to you is that it's hard to get credit. Yet, the way the credit card companies allegedly bring on your default is by giving you credit. I'm not sure that the argument that credit card companies should deny you credit, because otherwise you won't be able to get any credit, really works too well.
But leaving that aside, why should you feel morally obligated to repay, at great personal cost, a company which feels no obligation to you? No particular reason, maybe, except that the belief in a moral obligation to repay one's debts may be the only reason we can have both credit, and relatively light legal sanctions for overusing credit. If people really acted as if the choice to default were morally neutral, we'd either lose most of our credit system, or the legal rules would have to be much more punitive.