If you find that you’re constantly behind on your credit card or loan payments even though you’re doing everything in your power to pay them, it may be a good idea to negotiate with one or more of your creditors. It’s not an easy task, and can be daunting, but these tips will increase your chances of striking a deal with your creditors.
Before going in, keep in mind that they deal with people in your circumstances every day. They know what you’re going to ask, and they have a host of responses to give you. Preparation and persistence is key to making your case.
Before you make the initial call, lay out all your finances and figure out how much you can realistically pay every month. You need to have enough to live on and pay your bills, and the creditor should be willing to work with you to establish a plan where you can do both: pay your normal bills and your debts.
When you call, have in mind the amount you can realistically pay. It should be at least 50% of your normal bill, as they will rarely negotiate more than that. Begin by telling the creditor that you cannot pay the full amount, but you are able to pay some, and tell them the number you’re proposing. You may be able to arrange a payment plan, if you cannot pay it in a lump sum.
Be prepared for the first person to turn you down, as this happens often. You’ll need to ask to speak to a supervisor, and maybe even another supervisor after that. Stick to your guns when telling them how much you’re able to pay, and emphasize that you want to eventually pay off the debt. If they’re willing to negotiate, you can also ask about having them remove their negative comments from your credit report once you’ve paid everything off.
If they do agree to work with you on a payment plan, be sure to get it in print. Ask that they mail or email you the agreement in writing, and save it in case any disputes come up later on.
If you’ve tried all of the above and are still getting stuck, you can try mentioning that you may have to resort to bankruptcy. What does bankruptcy mean for creditors? It means they get nothing—not even the percentage of your payment that you were offering. It’s in their best interest to at least receive some of the payment, instead of getting zero.