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negotiating with credit card companies

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have a question, and wondering if anybody has any insight on this.

It recently came to light that we are in debt. How can you not know that you’re in debt, you’re probably wondering? Well, for almost six years I have been dealing with depression on and off (more on than off, and not very well in either mode), and part of that was me not opening the mail. The bills were getting paid, an automatic payment from the bank, so they were mostly on time, and usually over the minimum payment.

I know, it’s bad.

Another part of this is that I hid it from my husband. He trusted me to be doing the right thing for our family, and for whatever reason, I was avoiding it. I am back in counseling and considering going back on medication. I had been treated for this (depression – apathy, the doctor actually called it) in December 2007, and stopped in February 2009. It is now obvious that it wasn’t working.

I’m not even going to discuss the hit our marriage has taken because of this.

Anyway, my question is whether or not there is any way to negotiate with credit card companies to lower the amount of interest due to them, especially on my husband’s card (Chase) since he was not aware of what I was (not) doing. He is not asking them to forgive any of the principal due, since he acknowledges that is what we charged (although there is one non authorized charge that he is filing a claim on), but he would like the amount of interest lowered. He has already requested a lower interest rate, and he was denied that, saying that with the new law that they’re not lowering rates for anybody.

Do you think that this is even a possibility? And if so, do you have any suggestions?

I know what I did was wrong, and I/we are dealing with all of this the best that we can, but the reality is, I put us in serious credit card debt by not paying attention to the mail, amongst other things. A hefty piece of the amounts due is interest since the rates on the cards went up.

Any information you’ve got is appreciated.
post #2 of 10
In my experience, no one's been willing to negotiate until we were actually past due. Credit companies belong in one of the lowest circles of hell.

<<<HUGS>>> on the bill thing. I've been there, and I know exactly how crappy it feels when you finally start opening the mail.
post #3 of 10
NO, as far as I know the interest is money due the bank. Its already accured (sp) and they will do their best to collect it. Principle, interest, fees, everything. Sorry.
post #4 of 10
CC companies are evil, I agree.

IME, CC companies are willing to reduce balances a little in exchange for a settlement payment but not by much. Also, be aware that if they forgive principal, you have to count that as income. But I've never found one that will forgive principal. I did recently save about $600....I negotiated with Cap 1n on my $3700 balance. I had enough to pay off the whole thing but after adding up how much I'd paid them in interest over the years, on the original principal balance, I decided I would see if they'd give me a break and they did. I made to to get a letter from them about how they'd report the paid off account on my credit report but they provided it.
post #5 of 10
The only advice I have is to keep asking for a supervisor. My husband works for a credit card company and corporate policy is never to send a call upline unless the customer specifically asks. Supervisors (his office has a whole department of them--they don't actually supervise anybody, just have additional authority to do stuff) are sometimes willing to make changes to your account that a regular customer service rep can't or won't do.
post #6 of 10
We have negotiated settlements before and gotten several hundred dollars shaved off but we had to pay the whole chunk of what was agreed to all at once and then the account was closed. Not sure if they would do that if you are still wanting to make monthly payments. It is worth trying though.
post #7 of 10
I think that it is definitely worth calling the companies. I settled a couple of credit cards. We had to pay them a lump sum but it was about half of the balance. However all three companies also offered various hardship plans that involved lowered interest rates for a set period of time but did not lower the acutal principle due. They also offered to waive a whole lot of late fees. Good luck.
post #8 of 10
We've been paying down our debt for about a year now and have been trying to get our interest rate lowered.. We've been told they aren't lowering interest rates for anyone right now (this is what we've been told since last September and most recently this past month).
post #9 of 10
This isn't quite the same thing, but I do have a relevant point in here...

We have excellent credit (scores around 800) and our interest rates were automatically raised fairly recently on two credit cards and an annual fee was instated on one card. DH called as each notice arrived because he was irate. (I typically handle finances, but we are both fully aware of our accounts, etc.) The annual fee was not negotiable and he canceled that card (Citibank, I believe). The interest rates, however, were both lowered back to the previous rates and he was given a song and dance about why it was raised. (Technically speaking, raising our interest rates means nothing to us because we do not carry balances on any cards unless it is interest-free for a specific period of time and we pay off the balance before a cent of interest is due. However, the principal of the whole thing is what ticked DH off.)

My point that is relevant to the OP's situation is they ARE lowering interest rates under some conditions. It just may be more strict than it once was and it may take a higher level of authority to get it done. Be persistent and keep going up the ladder, so to speak.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
just a quick update ...

DH has talked to his credit card company, and at this point, there isn't anything they can do for him, however, they did say that he can write a letter, with documentation to support his claim (my depression).

He is not hoping to get any principal waived, as he does agree that those are valid charges. He said that if he had known about the debt, that we would not have spent as we did, but whats done is done and we can only move forward from here.

We are working on a letter for his credit card and for one of mine, and we'll see what they say.

We did get approved for our home refinance, so the money he wanted to pull out and put toward a living room upgrade/mini renovation will go towards the debt instead. It won't cover all of it, but a significant chunk.

Thanks for your insight ladies, I do appreciate it.
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