Tips for negotiating your debt

When it comes to negotiating your credit card debt, you must first be willing to talk to your lenders over the phone. If you send them a letter saying you’d like to negotiate, they’re probably not going to read it. Even if it’s a persuasive statement explaining your financial situation in exhaustive detail and giving an explicit payment plan, your lenders will want to finalize everything over the phone. Be prepared to talk and consider these tips for negotiating your debt.

You also must know what you have, and what you are able to pay. Consider the two options of paying back in a lump sum or paying on a monthly payment plan, and the possibilities those options entail. If you are trying to pay a lump sum, you will take an immediate hit to your finances, but if you can make that payment, you can move on and prevent possible bankruptcy. If you want to have a new monthly plan, you will be losing a smaller percentage of your current income, but in the long run you’ll be paying more than a lump sum. Know your monthly income, and from that, designate 36% of it toward paying your debt.

If you’re going the lump sum route, keep the number 25 in mind. This is the percentage of the balance you want to start with for an offer of the finalized payment. Many lenders will take that amount, but many lenders will also want more. There could be some haggling going on, and the percent you offered could go up to one third or one half the balance, but always start at 25% of the balance.

If you’re looking at a monthly payment plan, look at the different factors of the payment. Your current plan has a minimum monthly payment (which pays off the principal), as well as an interest rate tagged on. With the new plan, ask for either a lower interest rate or a lower monthly payment. If you request a lower monthly payment, you’re paying less on the principal, and this new plan could be stretched out by a few months or even a year or two. This means there could also be more interest to pay in the long run. Request the specific minimum monthly payment, but try to pay more than the minimum at least once during the new plan.

And remember to be truthful and patient, but also, most importantly, polite. If you are on the verge of bankruptcy, you need to mention it, but your lender also needs to know you are able to and you want to pay some of the balance back. If you have a good credit history, let your lender know. If you want to lower the interest rate by a percentage point, don’t be shy about this, either. Don’t get angry or discouraged if all you hear is no. You will most likely have to make multiple phone calls to get a working plan. And always ask for the plan in print. I’m being another broken record by saying it, but you should never pay for something unless you can see what you are paying. I hope these tips will help you if you decide to negotiate your credit card debt.

David Pilley

David Pilley

David Pilley is a May 2010 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a B.A. in communication studies and a creative writing minor. He is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina.

He played clarinet for the Marching Tar Heels in 2005 and 2006. He also volunteered for STV, the student-run television station at UNC-Chapel Hill, in the spring of 2010. He shot video, wrote scripts, and acted for “Off the Cuff,” UNC’s longest running sketch comedy show. He has the rare distinction of having lived in a dorm all four years of his undergraduate college career. He was also on Franklin Street on the night of April 4, 2009. His future plans are to pursue a master’s degree in journalism and to one day work for the media as a sports journalist or broadcaster.

Being one of eight children, David realizes finance is an important topic to everyone, regardless of his/her knowledge of the subject. His interests are in personal finance, budgeting, and savings.

In his spare time, David enjoys watching sports and standup comedy, as well as doing crossword puzzles and writing in the first person. He also thoroughly enjoys trivia and, one day, hopes to participate on the game show Jeopardy!, where he will try to break Ken Jennings’ 74-game win streak.
David Pilley

Latest posts by David Pilley (see all)