How to Negotiate Credit Card Debt

Negotiate Credit Card Debt

How to Negotiate Credit Card Debt. If you're in over your head with credit card debt, you may feel as if you have no control at all, but that's not true. Credit card companies are surprisingly willing to negotiate with consumers on everything from interest rates and fees to payment plans. Often, all you have to do is ask.

Negotiate Credit Card Debt

Step 1

Ask for a lower interest rate. If you've been making payments on time, you should have no trouble negotiating a rate that is at least 2 percent below the national average. Even if you haven't been making payments on time, it's worth a phone call to see whether you can cut your interest rate slightly.

Step 2

Request that fees, such as those for making late payments, using "free checks" and accessing money through ATMs, be waived. Some credit card companies won't budge on these fees. Others are surprisingly willing to negotiate.

Step 3

Set up a payment plan. If you've been making your payments in a timely manner, most credit card companies won't negotiate much on payment plans. However, if you've been unable to pay for several months, you may find them willing to work with you to set up an affordable plan. After all, they'd rather get their money slowly than not get it at all.

Step 4

Offer a lump-sum settlement of about 25 percent of the total balance.

Step 5

Get all negotiated deals about your credit card debt in writing. As the old joke goes, an oral contract isn't worth the paper on which it's written.

Step 6

Seek credit counseling. An experienced and reputable credit counselor may be able to work out a deal when you can't. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling offers a ZIP-code locator at Debtadvice.org, allowing you to find a credit counselor near you (see Resources below).

Warning

If you negotiate a payment plan or a lump-sum settlement, be sure to live up to your end of the bargain. Failing to comply with your part of the deal may nullify it. Do not believe the old wives' tale that just seeking credit counseling will damage your credit rating. It won't, but missed and late payments will.

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