Before considering hiring a debt settlement service, or a debt consolidation loan, you may want to consider negotiating your credit card debt on your own. There is no absolute guarantee that this will work, but you have nothing to lose by trying. When done correctly, you may very well be able to lower the amount of money you owe and make paying your debts easier.
One of the main reasons that individuals opt to use debt settlement agencies is that they do not possess the knowledge of how the credit card industry works, and do not know what to say when they call. When it comes to credit cards, everything is negotiable to a point. Know this before you pick up the phone.
The first things you should try to negotiate are late and penalty fees. This is where the credit card representative has the most leverage. This is because these fees are not set in stone. They do not involve any purchases you made, and honestly, are optional funds that the credit card company hopes to collect, but does not have to.
Next up would be an interest rate. If you can reduce the interest rate on the balanced owed by even a few points, you stand to save a lot of money. Again, this is money the credit card wants to make but does not absolutely have to collect.
The last place to try to find room for negotiation is on your balance for goods and services that were directly purchased by you. Since you owe every dime of this money, there will be little wiggle room here. You purchased these things, and the credit card company paid for them. The only circumstance under which this amount might be reduced is if you let them know you are considering bankruptcy. They may think that getting something is better than nothing and be willing to cut you a deal.
When calling, keep in mind that the ball is in their court. Because of this, you should be as pleasant as possible to the person you are speaking with. They do not have to help you, and if you fail to treat them with respect and courtesy, you will get nowhere, fast. You can tell them that you realize that a portion of your credit card debt could possibly be reduced, but do not attempt to drive that point home by being pushy.
If you are not able to make progress with the first credit card representative you speak to, ask for someone else, possibly a supervisor. Be mindful of the fact that once you do this, the negotiation process is breaking down. The next representative, or supervisor, will likely be notified that you are being difficult. This will make the next person you speak to less likely to be cooperative.
These methods may or may not work. However, it is worth a few minutes of your time to see if you can indeed have your credit card balance reduced. If you have been a good customer in the past, you may just get lucky. One thing is certain, you never know until you try.