Credit card debt is one of the top reasons consumers seek debt relief. American consumers have $102 trillion in credit card debt, according to the Federal Reserve Bank. As much we all want to pay our debts on time, hardships like divorce, medical bills and job loss happen. But that doesn’t mean the banks and credit card companies are going to forgive the debt. If you have trouble paying your credit card debt, you will have to reach out to them. Here are five easy ways you can negotiate your credit card debt.
Talk to your credit card company.
This is both the easiest and hardest step to take. It is easier to avoid the debt—that’s why debt collectors have such a hard job. But you will have a better chance at negotiating your credit card debt if you call them before they or a third-party debt collector calls you. You may not get a friendly voice on the other end so don’t be afraid to haggle if you are not getting what you want. The next steps involve how to reduce or erase your credit card debt.
Negotiate a lump sum payoff.
If you are having financial trouble, you may not have access to a lump sum of money. But if you can erase a lot of money off of your credit card debt, think about asking a friend or relative to borrow the money. But don’t pay the full amount with interest. The point of paying it off with a lump sum is to pay a lower amount. Negotiate until you get a good deal from the company.
Ask for a hardship or structured payment plan.
With this plan, your credit card company will freeze the debt while it negotiates a plan with you. You may get the interest rates lowered, too. Be sure to ask the credit card company if any annual fee can be waived, too. Many credit card companies have a hardship plan and will work with customers with a positive payment history. This is a good option if you think you will get back on your feet in the near future. This plan may not work for you if your financial problems are long-term.
Workout another payment arrangement long-term.
Ask the credit card company if they will reduce the monthly payments and interest so that you can afford the bill. The downside is you will no longer be able to use the card’s credit limit (if it is not maxed out already). This is often called a “workout” arrangement because it will allow you to work your way out of the payment. You will have to stick to the arrangement you make or in many cases, the credit card company will be able to revert back to the original terms of the card. Make sure you read the fine print.
Talk to a debt relief specialist.
Sometimes the credit card companies won’t negotiate with you. But you still have options. Debt relief specialists can negotiate on your behalf to have your credit card debt erased or reduced. Be prepared to present all of your financial records and not just the credit card debt so that the debt relief specialist can have a complete picture of your ability to pay. Using a debt relief company takes the stress away from you and helps you get your credit card debt reduced.
Finally, no matter what you do make sure you have the agreements in writing. You don’t want the company to try to obtain the full credit card debt when you have agreed to a reduction.