If you’re like most people, you have at least one credit card. If you’re like way too many people, your credit cards are maxed out and you’re barely able to make payments.
If you are in over your head with credit card debt, you may feel you have no control over the situation. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Credit card companies are wiling to negotiate with consumers on everything from interest rates and fees to payment plans. You just have to ask.
Credit card companies are also willing to negotiate on your debt. The card issuers want to get repaid, after all, and they are willing to work with consumers on how this gets done. To begin negotiation, ask first for a lower interest rate. If you’ve been making your payments on time, you shouldn’t have any trouble negotiating up to at least 2 percent below the national average rate. Even if you haven’t been making payments on time, it may be worth your time to see if you can cut your interest rate – even cutting it just a little will help.
You can also request that fees, like those for making late payments, using free checks, and accessing money through ATMs, be waived. Some card issuers won’t budge on these, but some will. It’s worth it to ask.
Next, work with the card issuer to set up a payment plan. If you’ve been making your payments on time, card issuers aren’t likely to negotiate much, if at all, on payment plans. But if you’ve been unable to pay for a few months, they will likely work with you to set up an affordable plan. Card issuers want to get paid – even if they have to negotiate the terms.
You can offer a lump sum settlement of about 25 percent of the total balance also.
Make sure you get everything in writing once you have negotiated new terms. When it comes to credit card negotiations, it’s not worth a thing if you don’t have it in writing.
Another thing you may want to consider is getting some credit counseling. There is, after all, a reason you’re in over your head to begin with. An experienced and reputable credit counselor can help you work out a deal even if you can’t work one out on your own. Check with your Better Business Bureau to make sure you find one in your area that is legitimate and doesn’t charge unreasonable fees for services.