How do I negotiate my debts with my credit card company?

Question

How do I negotiate my debts with my credit card company?

Answer

When people get into debts that are so out of control they have difficulty making the monthly payments, they panic and believe they are in real trouble. They are in trouble; however, there are solutions and assistance available to them.

Most people's debt that causes the most anguish is credit card debt. It is easy to have these amounts get up too high, and it is equally easy to be offered many more credit cards with limits that far out reach a person's ability to repay. Once a person reaches the point where they are falling behind, they are embarrassed and want nothing more than to avoid those calling on behalf of the credit card companies as if they had the power to haul them off to jail. Avoiding the attempts of the credit card companies to reach out to you, however, is a big mistake. In fact, once you reach the point where you are falling behind in your payments, the best thing you can do is to contact the credit card companies. After you explain your situation, most of these companies are open to negotiating a debt settlement that will work for you.

In many cases like this the credit card company will be willing to reduce the amount you owe them and accept the lower amount as payment in full. For example, let's say you owe the credit card company $20,000, but you just lost your job and now you just want to keep a roof over your head. The company understands that they are not going to be the first thing on your priority list. However, in order to not lose all the money they are owed, they may tell you that they are willing to accept $10,000 for payment in full. The only difficult hitch in a scenario like this is that generally they want the whole $10,000 as a lump sum; they won't set up that figure as a new credit loan with a new minimum payment.

Credit card companies are willing to negotiate like this because in many cases like that described above, the debtor is probably looking at bankruptcy. Credit card debt is what is called "unsecured" debt, meaning there is no property attached to which they can repossess. When it comes to bankruptcy, unsecured debts are the first debts to be dismissed by the court, meaning they will get nothing from you should that happen. It is in their best interest to negotiate for a percentage of what you owe them than to receive nothing at all.

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