If you’re worried about your credit card debt, you’re not alone. The total debt in the U.S. is at an all-time high of $930.6 billion, and it’s only getting worse. Being in debt can be overwhelming, and you might feel helpless trying to pay it off.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be stuck with your debt forever. Negotiating with your credit card company can help you reduce or eliminate your payments and manage your debt more effectively.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to negotiate debt with credit card company agents to get out of debt and back on track financially.
Why Should You Negotiate Your Credit Card Debt?
Credit card debt is usually unsecured, which means that the company can’t take your property if you don’t pay it back. That’s why credit card debt is often the first to get neglected when people have tight finances. However, falling behind is a slippery slope, causing your debt to accumulate and grow over time if left unchecked.
Most people are afraid to negotiate directly with their credit card companies and look into debt settlement companies instead. While debt settlement companies can be helpful, they usually take their cut from the amount you save on your debt, and it’s almost always more than if you negotiated directly with your credit card company yourself.
Debt settlement companies sometimes recommend that you stop paying minimum credit card payments, which can lead to late fees, higher penalty APR (annual percentage rate), and more debt. Additionally, not all credit card companies work with debt settlement companies, so it’s crucial to consider this before deciding to go down this route.
Your credit card company may put you in default if you fall too far behind on payments, which can negatively impact your credit score and make it impossible to settle your debt. Before this happens, it’s best to negotiate directly with your credit card company. This is a more cost-effective and less risky option to take control of your financial situation.
What Are the Best Steps for Negotiating Credit Card Debt?
Negotiations with credit card companies can be intimidating and tricky, but you can get a good result with the right strategy. Here are some tips to keep in mind when negotiating with your credit card company.
1. Know How Much You Owe
Before you start negotiating, ensure that you know exactly how much money you owe to your credit card company, including your current balance, interest rate, fees, and other costs for all of your credit cards. This will help you better assess the situation and develop a realistic solution. Also, check how much you can afford to pay each month.
2. Identify Your Options
Consider which settlement option works best for your situation. These include:
- Workout Agreement: You can ask your credit card company to make it easier to pay off your debt by waiving or reducing minimum monthly payments, lowering interest rates, or removing past late fees.
- Lump-sum Settlement: If you can pay off your debt in one large payment upfront, your credit card company may let you pay less than what you owe.
- Hardship Plan: This applies to those who experienced a job loss or a severe illness. Your credit card company may offer a structured payment plan to reduce minimum payment, interest rate, and fees.
3. Speak With Your Credit Card Provider
If you decide to negotiate yourself, it helps to prepare in advance. Make sure to have all the necessary documents and information ready before you call your credit card company. When you’re ready to call, ask for the debt settlements or collections department.
When speaking with a representative, be clear, polite, and firm. Explain your situation and what you can afford to pay. Don’t agree to anything that’s not within your means, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
4. Outline Your Terms
Negotiate the best repayment plan for you and your credit card company. Clearly outline your terms if you intend to pay off the debt in full or make smaller monthly payments. You should also inform them if you still want to use the credit card or if you want to close the account.
5. Take Notes of Your Conversation
Make sure to keep a record of your conversation, including the name and contact information of the representative you spoke with. If you choose to record the call, inform the representative beforehand, as some state laws require both parties to consent beforehand. This can come in handy if there are any issues in the future.
6. Follow Up, if Needed
Your credit card company may not be willing to negotiate immediately. If they deny your request or won’t negotiate, you can appeal their decision. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the supervisor or someone higher up in the organization and explain your situation again. This may also help you find someone who is more willing to negotiate.
7. Get Everything in Writing
Once you have agreed upon a repayment plan and terms, get everything in writing from your credit card company. This includes the agreement details, payment amount, time frame for payments, and other information discussed during the negotiation process. A deal is only a deal once it’s in writing.
Negotiating your credit card debt can be a powerful tool for getting back on track financially. By understanding your debt, identifying your options, speaking with your credit card provider, outlining your terms, taking notes of your conversation, following up if needed, and getting everything in writing, you can negotiate a deal that works for you and your credit card company.
However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or if negotiating with your credit card company doesn’t work, consider reaching out to a nonprofit credit counseling organization like Debt Reduction Services. These organizations can provide you with personalized financial advice and support to help you get out of debt and achieve financial freedom. Don’t let credit card debt control your life, take control and start your journey towards financial freedom today.
About the Author
Rick has been in the financial and credit counseling industry for over 20 years. He is currently a HUD certified housing counselor and has well over a decade of experience as a certified credit counselor. Rick writes regularly on matters relating to consumer finances and is a contributor for many publications on these topics.