Help DIY Negotiate Special Repayments

I teach part time and was not given a class load until after July 2012 when the fiscal year ends. I just called American Express who’s charging me 30% on 2 credit cards.

I’ve done credit counseling before, and apparently, I could have done the same thing on my own. I was out of debt once, and I’m back in it. So I want to try to do it myself.

Amex essentially told me “good luck and see what you can do,” they won’t make any “special” arrangements at all.

Any tips that worked when you called a credit card company directly to make special arrang—Éments so you can continue to make monthly payments?

Thank you in advance.

Just wanted to say I have Amex and they are the worst to deal with. They wouldnt negotiate with me either. Very nasty people. They sent me to collections. The collection agency reps called and told me how stupid i was and ill never have a good job or a house because my credit is bad. They told me Amex is not like other credit cards and wont help you or settle. I hope things work out better for you. I had the Optima card by the way. The one where you DON’T have to pay the balance in full at end of each month.

I’m in the same boat you’re in. Fortunately, I’ve been given classes each semester but none of these companies seem to understand the concept of part time teachers or “seasonal” work. In my case, I’m essentially unemployed in four months of the year. And unemployment (since they deduct for any work you do) makes it undesirable to find other employment.

I am in the middle of a DIY myself, and thought I’d share my experiences, because I’ve been surprised by what has happened …

A year ago I went into foreclosure (and got behind on cc’s and loans). With the attorney’s fees added on, I could only catch up by making payments in installments. My mortgage company set me up on a forbearance plan for 12 months, and now I only have this month’s and next month’s payments and I’m done!

Also last year, I paid lots of “stupid taxes” by way of payday loans … So things were a mess by the end of the year. It was all my own doing – nothing catastrophic took place that caused my debt, just my own overspending. CCCS would not be helpful for my situation, so I decided to do it myself …

I feel very fortunate to have found this blog, as I’ve said many times, because it’s given me invaluable information and support … and Dave Ramsey. So I dug in and got started … I set up my spreadsheet and started with the first step – getting current.

Fast forward a few months – I spent lots of time on the phone negotiating with creditors. I can see why people turn over this process to settlement companies, because it definitely is time-consuming and stressful. I was behind in almost everything.

But here’s the thing … creditors did work with me, and in many cases were even sympathetic on the phone, and spoke to me in a manner I can only describe as fairly gentle. Odd. That had not been my experience in the past.

I think this is the reason: I paid my mortgage on time for the last 10 months, extra $400 per month and all. I have made good on all my payment arrangements with my creditors these past months. When they set something up for me that lowered my interest rate and allowed me to catch up, I followed through as I’d promised.

Recently, Wells Fargo offered me a deal to split up my balance ($2000) into 12 payments, at 11% interest (down from 24%). AND they said when I’d finished that, they’d reopen my credit card account. Very odd, considering my FICO score is in the tank. Now before you caution me about reopening my account, let me say I have no intention of doing so. It’s just that what seems a gesture of good faith surprised me. Again, if I’m reading things right, I think it’s because I’ve been making good on all the arrangements I set up.

Even my credit union, where I have been chronically one month behind for the last year on my loan, is now very friendly and warm (really odd) when I go to make my payments … they sign my receipts with a little smiley face.

I know it might seem like phony friendliness – but I am pretty cynical about stuff like this, and I do believe it’s been genuine.

So, I think the surprising lesson I learned is that if you can get some good faith established by setting up payment plans and then establish a history of following through with them … I think the other creditors will follow suit, and cut you a break.

I still have a good amount of debt to pay off, and am almost current on everything. And I believe if I continue to follow through with the arrangements I have going, it will make a lot of difference, because my payments got lowered.

Perhaps others in this group have had this same experience. I never did before (but I’ve never had this much debt before), and it’s giving me hope that I can keep going, and maybe even one day be debt free …

Thanks to everyone for your invaluable information and advice.

To all who’ve replied so far, thank you.

  1. Amex is the hardest to deal with, I’m going to call the other creditors. My biggest debt is with JP Chase. Others have good experience with them?
  2. I could keep pointing back to how good I’ve been paying, with an occasional late payment (exceptions vs. rules)

I owe $23,000 to Chase and I called them last week telling them I lost my job (didn’t volunteer further details — why didn’t I think of this before as a strategy to lower the interest rate. They didn’t ask for verification of job loss). My interest rate was 30%.

Learnings:

  1. Confirmed that multiple calls talking to different people in the same company can give you different answers. I found this out by “accident.”
  2. There are some nice people on the “other side,” who’d truly work with you. I was constantly asking “What would you do since you know the ramifications of the options” from the bank’s side.

My monthly payment of $820 was reduced to almost half. Yippee!

No luck with Amex, but success with JP Morgan. I’m gearing to use the same technique for the other high interest cards.

Thank you all for your positive financial energy!