Did you know the average US household owes more than $7,000 just in credit card debt? You might actually be lucky if you owed just $7000. Many Americans owe far more than that. It’s not unusual to find people that owe $15,000, $20,000 or even more in credit card debt.
Where do you stand?
If you owed the average of $7000 at 19% interest and wanted to pay it off in three years, your monthly payment would be $256.59 – assuming you made just the minimum payment each month. If you scale that up to $20,000 of credit card debt at the same 19%, your minimum monthly payment would be somewhere around $800 and it would take you 194 months to pay it off.
You do have credit card debt relief options
If you feel you’re being overwhelmed by your credit card debt, you do have options. But you need to first to sit down and make a list of your credit card debts including the amounts you owe, the date of the month your payment is due, your interest rate and the minimum payment.
Then take some time to think about your objectives or the concessions you need to request to get your debt under control and paid off. Your objective might be to get your interest rates reduced, to skip your payments for a few months, to get your payments reduced or even to settle your debts and pay them off.
Next, get on the phone and start contacting your credit card companies. This may be easier said than done. All the credit card companies multiple layers of customer service people and the ones you need to contact may have different titles. You will need to be patient and keep making phone calls until you reach people who can actually negotiate with you.
Debt settlement – DIY or hire a professional?
As mentioned above your objective could be to settle your debts and pay them off. Yes, believe it or not credit card companies will negotiate with you over your credit card debt and you might even be able to get your debts reduced substantially. However, to do this you will need to be at least several months behind in your payments and owe probably $5000 or more.
Before you talk with someone that has the authority to settle your debt, have all of your financial information on hand. This includes your earnings, your assets and all of your debts with the amount you owe and how far behind you are in any payments. In other words you will need to have all of the information on hand to help you “sell” the settlement. Whining and begging won’t do.
You will need to have solid, concrete reasons as to why you need to settle the debt. If you are unable to convince your customer service person to settle with you, you may need to pull the trump card. This is basically either threatening or implying that if he or she refuses to settle with you, you’ll have no alternative but to file for bankruptcy.
This is sort of the “big stick” of debt settlement negotiation because most credit card companies would rather get, say, 50% of what you owe than nothing. Oh, and spoiler alert: You should have the cash available to pay for any settlement you are able to negotiate. In fact, this can be one of your biggest bargaining chips – that if the company agrees to settle, you will send them the money immediately in the form of a cashiers check or wire transfer.
Let the debt settlement pros do it?
If you would just love to settle your credit card debt but don’t feel you have the requisite negotiating skills or the cash available to pay off the settlements, you might turn the job over to a professional debt settlement company such as National Debt Relief. These companies have trained and experienced counselors that are usually able to negotiate much better settlements than you would be able to do yourself. Most people who sign up with a debt settlement company will see their debts slashed by 50% or more, making them much easier to pay off. Not to mention a solid BBB accreditation.
Be wary, be very wary
There are numerous debt settlement companies that advertise online. Most of them are very ethical. However, in the case of others not so much. In fact, debt settlement has been one of the biggest online scams of the past five years. Many of these fraudsters have flashy websites, make big promises, charge huge fees up front, then take the money and disappear – only to open up again in a few months under different names.
What to look for
Before you sign up with a debt settlement company, check to see if it’s accredited by the Better Business Bureau and has at least an A rating. Go online and read the company’s reviews. The best of these companies will have many more positive reviews the negative ones but don’t be turned off if you find a company has a few negative reviews. This is just sort of the nature of the business. Anytime you’re handling people’s money, there is always room for issues.
A very ethical debt settlement company like National Debt Relief won’t charge anything up front nor will it require any monthly payments. In fact, National Debt Relief actually charges nothing until it has settled your debts to your satisfaction and provided you with a payment plan that you approve. It also has a very generous cancellation policy. If at any time you are dissatisfied with the company, you can cancel out of your program without paying a cent.
Carrying a big load of credit card debt isn’t any fun. But as you have read there are ways to lighten that load and have a better, less stressful life.