Things I did to settle my credit card dues!
It’s very hard to live life to the fullest if you have unsettled debts right?
It’s very difficult to share my bad experiences here since most of you already know me. But, this is a part of my roller coaster life and because of these experiences I became a better person. I know that we all want to be debt free, but we are afraid to open up and ask for help since we don’t want to be criticized in the end. Accepting our faults and moving on is the hardest thing to do, but I think that is the best way to be at peace.
I have 2 credit cards that has been default because I decided to be at stay at home mom. I know I still have an outstanding balance with them but I really don’t have a choice but to leave my work and take care of my son. Although we have a very limited income, I still want to settle my obligation with those banks that’s why I ask for their help.
I will start with Citibank, I did not have a hard time dealing with them since they are really offering an amnesty program for every cardholder who admitted that they cannot longer settle their account. They gave me a contract that indicates how much I will pay every month with a corresponding interest of just 1.5%. This is a lot better than be charged with 3.5% for unpaid balance of the Total Amount Due. I agreed and signed the contract ASAP. After a year of paying, I asked for an extension for my contract since life is really hard at that time. I want to lower my monthly amortization so that I can still pay it and not worrying about what we will eat the following day. Since I already have proven my integrity and willingness to settle my account to them, they agreed. They gave me another contract that indicated a much lower monthly payment.
POINTS TO CONSIDER:
1. If you are in good faith to settle your account don’t hesitate to negotiate with the bank for the best program that they can offer to help you settle your debt.
2. Check all your income less basic expenses, from that you will know how much is the extra money you can allot for your credit card debt. You don’t want you’re family to get hungry because you are paying your credit card. Explain to the bank that as of now, this is the only amount you can offer to pay for your debt and that you are willing to pay them even how long it takes but accept the amount you are offering. Maybe they will understand the situation.
The second card, HSBC. Since I can no longer pay my monthly dues with them, they forwarded my account to a collection agency (a.k.a. Legal department). Per record, my outstanding balance with them as of last payment is only around 40K, after 2-3 months it sky rocketed to 56K (shocking right?). They said that the balance reached that high because of finance charges, late payment etc.
Good thing is that I always file my billing statements. What I did was that I separate my monthly purchases and the bank charges (finance charge and annual fees). I discovered that they already earned a lot from me. I asked the collection agents to do the same (to give me a copy of all my purchases and the separate list of all the interest that the bank charges). He said that they don’t provide that kind of information. I told him, that based on my record the bank already earned a lot from me and I’ve been a good payer with them for how many years. I asked if he can give me a reasonable amount for settlement excluding all the charges since if they will keep on adding it up it will be very hard in my situation. We came up in a decision that they will only charge me 30K (from 56K) provided that I will pay it in full. I agreed, thinking that it’s better that way than to be charged with 56K. But to be sure that they really approved my request, I told them that I will only pay if they will give me a contract (since we are only talking over the phone) and a certificate of full payment after I settled it.
Where did I get the 30K cash if I am broke? I loaned it from one of my trusted friends and I agreed to pay her every month for 1 year.
POINTS TO CONSIDER:
1. Organize/File all your billing statement because you never know when will you need it.
2. Don’t be shy to haggle for a lower amount. It’s easier if they can see that you really are a good payer before.
3. Do not ever try to hide or run from your obligations. I always hear people saying that it’s okay to run/hide from credit card debt since no one goes in jail with it. I agree, nobody goes to jail with credit card debt since it’s just a civil and not a criminal case, but do you want to have sleepless nights because you’re conscience keeps on bothering you? We use the card when we needed it the most, and yes sometimes life is hard that we can no longer pay for all our purchases. But keep in mind that you gained from it, so it’s right to give it back even how hard and long it takes.
4. Always ask for a black and white copy of any conversation you had with the collection agents since that will be your best proof if they take back the amount you agreed upon.
5. Asking help from family and friends is the best way to help you settle your debt. If the bank can’t understand your situation, these people will.
Be wary, because not all banks are the same. I also encountered stupid collection agents before. They will scare you to death if you will not pay your obligation with the bank. But remember that these people were just an employee and also makes a living from the commissions they will get if one default credit card holder agrees to pay, so don’t take it personally.
For collection agents, just a piece of advise if any of you is reading this. Don’t be rude in dealing with default credit card holder, that style doesn’t work. Be polite in dealing with them and they will be shy not to entertain you.
I am not a hypocrite to tell you not to use credit card, because it’s still nice to have one, we don’t know when emergency will come. I also don’t blame anyone who can no longer pay their debt, but I just want to imply that we are still responsible for it.
Maybe the best thing to do is to leave your credit card at home and just stick your purchases within your budget.
Thank God I’m done with them.