Remember the first time you got a credit card? It would possibly have been one of the most financially liberating experiences for sure! The small pleasure of purchasing things you always wanted or buying subscriptions which otherwise seemed overpriced. Credit cards are known to fulfil many wishes of consumers, from owning expensive gadgets to going on an expensive holiday, it can sure buy you life’s simple-yet-unreachable joys.
However, not everything that looks glamorous can remain so forever. On the flip side of credit card usage comes the perils of debt. It can mercilessly take you down the dreaded path of debt unless you remain cautious at all times.
Spending with your credit card can be easy, but it requires an equal amount of diligent record-keeping to keep a tab of your expenses. If you fail to do so, you may be in a deep debt-trap before you realise. Not all is lost even if you end up in one. Here, we discuss credit card debt negotiation and how you can effectively do so.
Know Your Options
Before initiating negotiations with your credit card provider, you must try to get familiar with the options of settlement that are generally offered to consumers. In case the credit card issuer is willing to allow debt settlement, then chances are higher that they will agree to one of the following alternatives:
Lump-Sum Payment – You can negotiate with your credit card issuer to make a lump sum payment which is less than the total amount owed. Note that this option will only be applicable if you have sufficient cash available for the same. For instance, you could receive your job bonus, some kind of inheritance, or you are willing to use up your savings. This is when you can agree to make a one-time payment in return for forgoing of the remaining balance by the issuer.
Settlement Agreement – During negotiation rounds, the credit card issuer may agree to lower the total interest rate, waive or minimize the minimum payment to be made monthly. They may also agree to waive off any late fees in the agreement. This option will work in your favour as it will significantly reduce your overall debt and allow you to pay the debt in a much shorter time.
Payment Agreement During Hardships – Sometimes, you may be having trouble repaying your credit card debt due to illness, natural disaster, job loss, or any other personal hardship. In such situations, you could make arrangements to reduce minimum payments, reduce interest rates, and charges. You can even negotiate to suspend payments without any penalty levied for a limited period until you’re able to come out of the hardship. While this may be hard to negotiate, you can provide proof of your existing hardship to convince the issuer for favourable terms.
How to Handle Credit Card Debt Negotiations?
The toughest part in credit card debt negotiations is talking to your creditors about your difficulties. Any creditor would want you to pay every penny you owe and may not like to negotiate for lesser amounts. This is primarily because the partial settlement would mean a direct loss in income for the company.
Before you reach out to the creditor, you should do a detailed homework about the negotiation pitch and have clarity about the precise amount you can afford to pay. Whether it is a monthly reduction or a complete settlement, you must confidently present it to the creditor. If you are unprepared, you may end up negotiating terms that are unaffordable to you. Be prepared to remain calm and persistent as this may demand repeated calls and negotiations may most likely take place over multiple meetings.
Tips for Negotiating Credit Card Debt
Here are a few smart strategies to adopt while initiating negotiations for credit card debt:
- Gather all your bills and prepare a detailed budget to be carried along
- Continue making notes as you negotiate
- Note down the exact amount owed and the duration you have in hand
- Request to negotiate with debt settlement department of the credit card issuing company
- Continue to negotiate until you reach the amount you can afford to pay
- While negotiating, keep a note about each person’s name and their respective roles
- At the end of the negotiation, ensure to get the final terms in a printed document
A list of all the people you speak to and record of timelines will help you in completing the documentation. Reach out to multiple people until you have all the information or answers you would need to settle. If you are negotiating credit card debt by yourself, make sure to agree upon reporting of the negotiations to the credit bureaus. An ideal agreement would be that your credit report reflects payment in full and no dues owed.
A detailed write up about the negotiations should be expected from the creditor. This will help in ensuring that you have a legal agreement for future reference.
Negotiating a credit card debt can come with some downsides. You should be aware of these before initiating negotiations. Sometimes, negotiations end up negatively affecting your credit score. This, in turn, can damage your chances of borrowing in the future.
Before you enter into any agreement, learn about the possibility of the company closing your account or limiting your access to additional credit. The negotiation process can potentially stop your access to additional capital, which can be a bigger risk unless you have sufficient funds to manage your livelihood.
The Bottom Line
If you are unable to handle the current situation of credit card debt piling up, you can reach out to your credit card company to negotiate a settlement. Use the tips here to handle credit card debt negotiations the right way, and be free from your debt traps.