Credit Card Debt.

Updated on January 10, 2011
M.H. asks from Newington, CT
23 answers

Hello Ladies,
here is a question I am too embarrassed to ask my friends & family. Has anyone had to consolidate debt? I hear a bunch of ads for all kinds of companies. I also get offers in the mail to get a loan. I have heard I can call the credit card companies & make a deal with them to paid the debt. Any advice would be great. I have always been financially smart but I took 18 months off to raise my son & now I am paying the price.( I think it was worth it. Thanks for your help. M.

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B.F.

answers from Boston on

I have not had to use these services personally, but I know this company helps people,they are non-profit, and local. Visit their website at www.accs.org
American Credit Counseling Service, Inc.
Community Service Since 1988
4 Taunton Street
Suite 5
Plainville, MA 02762
Toll Free (800) 729-0551
Tel: ###-###-####
Fax: ###-###-####
eMail: [email protected]____.com

D.B.

answers from Boston on

I know a lot of people who used CCCS - I think ity stands for Consumer Credit Counseling Service. They hegotiate with the credit card companies and you make one monthly payment to them. Also, have you considered a flexible home based busibess with virtually no start up costs and great training and support to bring in an extra $400-800 a month or more to help you make payments? Lots of us are doing that!

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J.C.

answers from Lewiston on

Its a good thing that you asked this question because I think that more people then not are in ( or have been ) in the same boat. When I found myself with tons of small debt on many different cards, paying a little to this company and a little to that, I had to take a step back and reevaluate. I looked to my credit union to get one credit card and consolidate everything onto that. The rate through them was much better then most credit cards and after calculating how much I was paying out each month, I found I would be paying less each month to meet the minimun amount. We continued to pay out what we had been each month, but since it was going one place instead of many the extra money paid off the debt faster.

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A.P.

answers from Portland on

When I found myself stuck in the cc debt rut several years ago, what I did was take advantage of cc offers to transfer balance for 0% interest over so many months. When that offer ran out, I switched the balance to another card while canceling the old one. It took me a while, but in the end you will be better off than going to a consolidation company.
Good luck!!

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V.M.

answers from Springfield on

HI,

I used a company called TCA (Take Charge America), they were GREAT!!!! Best thing I ever did. You can look them up on the web. Very helpful and postive.
They helped me pay off my debt ($30,000)in 4 1/2 years.

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N.L.

answers from Boston on

Hi M.,

I too used CCCS (of Boston - Winter Street), I was able to do most of it if not all over the phone - took some time so be sure to get yourself a babysitter. I think it was in the area of 15,000 that we paid off over a couple of years. They were able to get some cards down to 0%... it was great. i have not used a credit card in years - cash and carry!!! My credit is in the 700! Best of luck - you are not alone and you will feel so empowered when you pay it all off! Stop the madness. Wish you the best...

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R.B.

answers from Hartford on

Hi M.,

My husband and I paid off 20,000 of credit card debt. Once we set our minds to it, it became amazingly easy. (Something I never would have guessed!) We too transferred to existing cards with low interest rates. Simply call your existing card companies and see what rate they will offer you. It is amazing what you can get when you ask. The most important piece of advice I can give you is that is absolutely essential that you immediately stop using your credit cards. It is impossible to get out of credit card dept while you continue to accrue more debt. We learned this the hard way. BTW, it also helps to wish for weekly money miracles. Best of luck. R.

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J.L.

answers from Boston on

In the past my husband and I fell into the same issue. We were lucky if we could make the minimum payments. Upon the suggestion of a friend that had experienced the same thing, I consolidated my cc's through a non profit organization called American Credit Counseling Service. You tell them what cards you want consolidated (I suggest all of them!), they negotiate with the banks involved to secure a lower, or even 0% interest rate(depends on the bank holding the loan) and you pay ACCS directly. They then make dispursements each month to each of your cards, on time, which is the first step to repairing your credit. As each card gets paid down, they simply put more towards all the other cards. I would have taken us 10+ years to get rid of our debt if we tried to do it on our own. With ACCS we did it in just over 4 years. Their website is www.accs.org

Good luck! I've been there myself and all I can say is that it will get better and it will feel so good when it does! I LOVE not being bugged by the creditors anymore!

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J.A.

answers from Boston on

Hi M.,

There are laws which allow you to consolidate bills. You do not need a third party to accomplish this. If your credit cards are in default. (you have to stop paying) you then can call the credit card company yourself. Make sure you ask to speak to a supervisor, someone who has the authority to negotiate settlements. Offer about 1/4 to 1/3 of the amount you owe. You can usually cut at least 50% off the balance. Make sure the credit card company gives you the offer in writing and make sure they will contact the credit reporting agencies and ensure they report that the debt was satisified in settlement. Also be aware that whatever savings you realize in reduction of debt will be reported to the IRS as income so you will have to pay income tax on the amount of the debt that get's reduced. You don't want to owe the IRS money you can't afford to pay. Bankruptcy will not allow you to discharge debt to the IRS.

J.

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L.S.

answers from New London on

Do not fall for some of those debt consolidation scams. Most of the ads you hear are not what they say they are. I've heard horror stories. There are some places that are legit and reccommended by the government to help people. I can't remember what site they are listed on .... but it is a .gov web site. Maybe another mom can help you with the names of some of them. Always check with the Better Business Bureau as well. I would start by calling each creditor and ask them how they can help you. Tell them you took time off from work and you want to pay back your bills but you can't do it with the APR they are giving you. Always pay off at least the minimum and a little more. You don't want your credit to suffer. Good luck!!

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M.F.

answers from Pittsfield on

Usually a bank loan is the surest way to go. Call your bank and make an appointment to speak to a loan officer about consolidating debt. They will give you the best advice for your particular situation. Make sure you cancell all your credit cards except 1 major one & minimize the limit to be $1000 and use it for emergencies only.

C.B.

answers from Springfield on

I did Cambridge Credit counseling and it is great! There is a website- just search Cambridge Credit on yahoo! Good Luck!!

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N.D.

answers from Hartford on

I agree with Julie, pay the lowest amount first and move on to the next. It will take a while but much safer than getting involved with some of the companies offering you money. Also remember to pay the other cards on time with just the minimum until you can pay them off one by one starting with the smallest amount owed first.

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R.D.

answers from Boston on

Look for 0% APR introductory offers in the mail (or 1-3%) And have your balances transferred over. JUST READ THE FINE PRINT CAREFULLY) The offer usually lasts ~6 months. It can work out great if you are diligent with the payments. The offer is usually voided if you have a late payment or miss a payment and then the APR will be very high.

The other thing to do is call the credit companies. Tell them your situation and maybe they will give you a good introductory deal if you transfer all the other cards to one particular card.

Good Luck

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J.R.

answers from Springfield on

Hi M., just to let you know you are NOT in this alone, I was actually where you are now 2 years ago. The best advice I have to give it a certain way to pay your debt on your own, You take all you credit card debt and start with the lowest credit balance due. You pay the minimum on all the other cards and pay as much -at least double on the lowest card until its gone -then you apply this amount plus the minimum and anything extra you can handle on the next lowest card and so forth. You can also see if you can get a lower interest card with no interest or low interest for a year on a new card and do a transfer. But you have to be careful about these because you have to pay off the transfer amount within a year or pay a huge interest fee. The other advice I have is to cut back where ever you can. Have your hubby or you take lunch to work EVERY day, go out to dinner once a month or once every two months. Its all about being disciplined with the money you have now. Also cut back on your grocery bill, think of your weekly menu before you go shopping and only buy those items. You can do it. I was 11,000 in debt and now I have only 3,000 left, and I did it in only 2 years. This is also not including my mortgage and car of course. Good luck to you. You can do it on your own.

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T.A.

answers from Providence on

I took out a loan from a credit union to pay off my credit card debt. Many credit unions have low interest rates. I found this was the safest, cheapest way to get out of debt.

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S.T.

answers from Boston on

Go the to library and Get the Book The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. My Husband and I took his Financial Peace university (based on the book)and it totally changed our lives. It covers how to deal with creditors, as well as getting yourself permanently out of Debt. After about 2 years the only debt we now have in our house, and we are investing in our future.

S.

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N.M.

answers from Hartford on

Hi M.,
Nothing to be embarrased about. Credit card debt is a REAL problem in todays world & not many people talk about it & it would really help. In the past I was in debt (before marriage) I used Consumer Credit Counseling of CT --- they mediate b/t the CC companies & you. they get the % rates down to zero & pay the CC themselves -- you just pay them a lower total monthly payment than you're now to each CC. This is a great option, because it DOES NOT hurt your credit rating & you'll be done in less time than you could on your own. I was also able to save money in the process & buy a house on my own after being done. Good Lock !!!

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C.B.

answers from Boston on

Hi M. - I would caution you to be very careful with debt consolidation companies. As a Realtor, I have seen long term effects on credit when using them...

My best advice would be to contact the credit card companies and work something out with them - and get it in writing. When you go to use your credit again, you will need to prove that you are credit-worthy and that paper trail will be very helpful to you.

It may take you a long time, but your best bet is to just pay what you can, when you can - and create a paper trail. That shows fiscal responsibility and that's what any future creditor will be concerned with.

Good luck!

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C.Y.

answers from Boston on

Hi M.

Yes I was there a while back. I wish I could remember the name of the company I used. I did use one of the companies that will work with your credit cards. They will make it so you can't use the card anymore and then every month they will withdraw a payment from your checking account. They take a small fee like $7.00 per credit card. It took me three years to pay them off but I would probaby still have them if I didn't do it. If the card is in both your names, they will ask to speak to your husband also.

Hope this helps.

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D.M.

answers from Boston on

First I would try contacting the credit card companies to see if they will lower your percentage (get on the phone w/a supervisor). It helps to collect credit card offers you get in the mail, and if your CC companies give you a hard time, you can say that you have an offer from X company for X percent that you will switch to (they want you to refer directly to the offer for confirmation), ask them to match it or lower yours. Also, if that fails, inform them that you are very close to going into "debt consolidation" and you are trying to find solutions first, and they should do everything in their power to keep you happy.

There are also banks who do loans, and depending on what you make and what you owe, that may be possible. Call your bank to see if they do a personal or a debt consolidation. If they think you don't have the finances, they will not give you the loan.

If you can't get your percentages lowered or get a bank loan, you may have to go into debt consolidation - if so try CCCS, consumer credit counseling service. There are a lot of sham companies out there, these guys do it right. They cut deals with your credit card companies, they pay them on time and you still get the statements. You have to do a payment up front, but counselors walk you through it. http://www.cccsatl.org/

I've gone through all these steps. It's very stressful to be behind, and this economy doesn't help. Good luck. : )

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B.V.

answers from Boston on

M.,

Pay off your credit cards but do not cancel them. Put them away. Canceling credit cards has a negative affect on your credit score. I know, it's idiotic but it does.

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W.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone.

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