With a lot of cases of unemployment and families who are struggling to survive, there will be many incidents where people find they can not make their monthly credit card payments or meet other financial obligations. It can be embarrassing and stressful to realize there is just not enough money to go a round, the absolute worse thing you can do is ignore the situation. You have to take action, pick up the phone, and speak to the credit card company just as soon as you realize the situation you are in. If you wait until you are already past due or in collections, you may find that negotiations are not possible.
Here are some tips for letting the credit card company know you aren’t able to make a payment.
Decide Who To Call
If you are still on schedule, you should contact the customer service department to discuss what is going on. If you have already gone past due with your bill, you will need to get in touch with the collections department.
If you are not able to make a payment due to financial hardships, such as a recent loss of job, you need to be honest and let them know upfront what is going on. Alert them to the fact that you are out of a job but actively looking for one. If you are suffering from another type of financial hardship, be sure to be truthful about what is going on and how you plan to handle it.
State Your Intentions
If you anticipate a time or date where you will be able to resume making payments or pay the card off in full, then inform the representative of your intended timeline. For instance, if you plan to pay your card in full from your income tax refund, tell them you anticipate getting a refund at a certain time. You can offer to pay a small payment to commit to that deal as a sign of good faith if you can afford to do so.
Make Other Arrangements
Many credit card companies will require you to make some type of payment to keep your account in good standing. Calculate what you can afford, even if it is just $10 a month, until you are able to make bigger payments or pay off the balance in full. You want to meet the requirements that will keep you from being turned over to collections. Work out a mutual agreement based on what you can afford and make sure you make those payments faithfully and on time.
Ask For Help
If you are struggling and can not commit to any arrangements, ask the credit card company for help. Many companies will have a policy and experience helping those in unexpectedly bad financial situations.
Again, the worst thing you can do is avoid or ignore the situation. Once you get turned over to collections, it will become more difficult to get help. Collection agencies work on commission in most cases and will be ruthless in pursuing the money and less enthusiastic about wanting to help you out.
Also remember that once you commit to arrangements, make sure you do everything you can to honor those commitments. It can be too easy to decide that your tax return can buy a lot of nice stuff and simply disregard your promise to pay off your credit cards. If you care about your credit score, and you certainly should, you will make your credit cards a priority until you are finally able to pay them off in full.