My credit card debt started to pile up in 2008. I had the card for only over a year, and by the second year, I was already only paying the minimum required payment. How did it happen? It was basically due to lack of knowledge about credit card usage.
I decided to stop paying in October 2010. I lost my card three months prior to that, and the replacement card that I requested was never delivered in my address. I dealt with customer service for three months that when I finally got the card, I immediately throw it away and decided to forget about it. And so I thought.
For the next few months, I started receiving calls, emails and letters from debt collectors often posing as lawyers. I became an expert at recognizing unwanted calls and in researching who those callers are. When I got a new job in 2012 and needed to travel abroad, my company submitted an application for an AMEX Corporate card for myself and was denied. We had to submit a notarized document in order to get the issuing bank’s approval.
The calls and emails stopped for awhile, but in early 2014, they came back. It became concerning at that point as the calls are actually coming in at work. Then in 2015, my siblings and I purchased a condominium unit under my name. That is when my credit card nightmare started (again).
I’d say, I always had the intention to eventually pay as I have been in fact saving money for it. But I just didn’t know how and where to start. A lot of things are holding me back, I was afraid that:
- my bank might ignore me and refer me to the debt collectors. I was firm from the very beginning that I will never negotiate with debt collectors, ever.
- my bank may accommodate me but I was afraid my debt has already earned very high interest which I could not afford to pay.
- I might need to get a lawyer and deal with all the legal stuff.
All these disappeared with just one call!
See, all banks declined my home loan application because of my unsettled credit card debt. It took my agents over three months to convince me to call my bank. And the rest is history, you may check my previous post for the story:
So, how do you settle your credit card debt?
1. If your card is still active, meaning your latest payment due date has not passed one month yet, call your bank and ask for an amnesty. Negotiate and request for a supervisor if necessary. Be honest about your financial status and come to an agreement about payment terms and on deducting interests. You may be granted a payment term of up to six or twelve months depending on the total amount. Note that the bank’s decision will depend on your past paying habits. If you have been a very good payer for a long time, you may be given better options and considerations.
2. If you already stopped paying and you have already been receiving calls from debt collectors, you may:
- negotiate with the debt collector
- ignore them, save money, and settle with your bank later
Either way, you are going to pay anyway. I opted to negotiate with my bank, although it took me six years to do that. You don’t want to wait six years. The need to borrow from a bank may come anytime, and your credit card debt will definitely get in the way. Start considering calling your bank today.
3. Do you have multiple cards and are having a hard time paying them? You can seek assistance from the Credit Card Association of the Philippines (CCAP). The below article may be useful:
Basically, they will help you consolidate your credit card debts through their Inter-bank Debt Relief Program (IDRP). Start by calling your bank, and ask if they are a member of CCAP, and is participating in the IDRP.
Are you also having problems paying off your credit card debt? Share us your story; feel free to leave your comments below.