Many of us have never considered negotiating with our creditors. However, as intimidating as it may sound, the process can save you money and keep you in good standing with your creditors.
What you can negotiate:
A lower interest rate on your credit card. If you negotiate with your credit card companies, keep in mind that they will check your credit score and ask your income. If either is lower than it was when you got your current interest rate and credit limit, the credit card company may actually increase your interest rate and/or decrease your limit.
The elimination of the annual fee charged to your credit card
Lower monthly payments. If you negotiate a lower monthly payment, keep in mind that you will pay more interest over time. Only negotiate for lower payments if you absolutely cannot pay the minimum.
A payment plan for a past-due amount. (Contact: Credit card company, utility company, phone company, etc.)
The acceptance of a reduced amount for payment in full of a debt (Contact: Collection agency)
When negotiating with a creditor (not a collection agency) always remember these five things:
- Be proactive: If you know you’re going to have a problem paying a bill, call as soon as possible. Try to make arrangements at the first sign of trouble to avoid being late on missing a payment.
- Be prepared: Know what you can and what you can’t commit to. Make an accurate household budget and know how much money you have to put towards the debt.
- Be polite but persistent: Ask to talk to a supervisor or call back another time if the person on the phone says they can’t help you.
- Document everything: Write down the date and time, get the employee’s name or employee number and make notes of exactly what was said and what arrangements were made.
- Get arrangements in writing from the creditor.
Stick to your agreements. Most creditors will not negotiate a second time.