Women & Money: Managing Credit Card Debt Through Negotiation

Savvy money management skills are a necessity to weather these tough economic times. BlackEnterprise.com has got you covered with our supplement to the magazine’s three-part “Women & Money” series.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll have money management tips and strategies from Harrine Freeman, CEO and owner of H.E. Freeman Enterprises, a credit counseling service.

BlackEnterprise.com: If your credit is in arrears, what are some good tactics when negotiating with creditors?

Harrine Freeman: Negotiating with your creditors is a key factor in ensuring you retain a good relationship with your creditors, and it helps to maintain your credit rating. Here are seven tactics to use when negotiating with creditors:

Be honest about your financial situation and assure your creditors that you want to pay back the debt owed.

Set up payment plans for each creditor for an amount you know that you can afford to pay each month.

If you feel you will make a late payment, contact your creditor immediately to set up payment arrangements.

You can request a financial hardship arrangement if you are unable to pay the minimum monthly payment. You can also ask for a temporary halt of payments, a lower interest rate (rate reduction), or a lower minimum monthly payment. You can request that late or over-the-limit fees be waived during the payment period.

Follow-up all conversations in writing to confirm payment arrangements and all verbal conversations. Request a confirmation letter in writing to confirm the payment arrangement start date, end date, and payment terms.

Once the debt is paid, request that the creditor remove the delinquent debt from your credit report. This will increase your credit score.

If you are unable to get assistance with your delinquent account, ask to speak to a supervisor or call back and ask to speak to one to get assistance.

If you are unable or don’t feel confident negotiating with your creditors, contact a credit counselor to help you with the negotiations.