Credit Card Debt Consolidation

Updated on October 10, 2009
C.C. asks from New Hyde Park, NY
24 answers

I am wondering if anyone has any experience with credit card debt consolidation/ elimination/ negotitation. What were your experiences? And if so, what company/ website did you use or go through? My husband and I are in credit card debt having no luck coming out of it oursleves. There are places are all over the internet and I am looking for what other people have used or done. Thanks. Side note- I am well aware of what this can do to our credit. We are more interested in getting out of debt at this point...

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N.B.

answers from Jamestown on

www.towerassociates.com or it's towerandassociates.com

They helped me out with Capitol One 4 years ago.

Nanc

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T.M.

answers from New York on

Rather than consolidating try calling the credit card company and work with them. Every card has a program that allows you to get a lower interest rate (therefore a lower payment) and they will set you at a fixed payment so the card is paid off in 5 years (or maybe less depending on what you owe). I just did this with 2 of my cards, and its working out great. The monthly payment for the 2 cards together is now less than it was for just one originally.

One down side is that the account is closed as soon as you start this program, but I'd rather stop using a card and know that it's getting paid off. There is also no penalty for early payoff, so if things start to get better for you, the card can be paid off sooner.

We kept one card with a low limit for emergencies and work expenses that gets paid off each month.

Good luck!

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L.G.

answers from New York on

we use MMI/Consumer Credit Card COunseling service. They are a non-profit and totally legit. I met with them in a local office, and went over my monthly budget and figured how much we could afford to pay to credit cards each month. They send a proposal to the credit card companies, which they will accept or reject. 3 out of 4 accepted (AMEX did not) and our interest rates were lowered and the minimum payment was reduced. We pay MMI each month and they pay the credit card companies. The thing is you can't open any new credit and you can't use the cards you are paying off. It has been tough, but we had to do it- we have a 6 month old, and hopefully by the time he is in kindergarten we will be debt free!
Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful
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R.H.

answers from New York on

Hi C.,
In New Jersey, I was in a program called Garden State Consumer Counseling. I gave them my account numbers to all of my credit cards. They made arrangements with all of my creditors. Consolidated all of my debt into a payment I could afford each month. Once I was in the program, my credit cards were no longer available for me to use, but I paid no interest on some and maybe 2% on others. Well worth it. It is better than claiming bankruptcy and destroying my credit, not only they got rid of those collection phone calls I used to get early in the morning. I do not know what is available where you are at. There might be something similar. It was a wonderful program and I managed to pay off my debt in 2 yrs. which then I was able to biuld my credit back up and buy a house. Hope this helps.
R.

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J.D.

answers from New York on

Call the credit card companies yourself - request they give you a lower interest rate or tell them you will close the account and transfer to a lower interest credit card...if you can transfer to a zero balance card -theres a fee for this but you need to calculate the one time fee vs the interest over time on your current card. Usually those 0% cards are only for a year, but many of them these days have pretty low rates after that promotion ends. Transfer what you can. If you have more than one card and can't transfer them all OR its not worth it to do so then start putting ALL you can toward the lowest balance card - then just pay the minimum on others...this allows you to really focus on paying down one at a time and as you pay one down you will feel successful and confident - spreading all your money out over all your cards is NOT going to get you anywhere...you need to pay as much as you can over a minimum otherwise its NEVER going away. DO NOT use your credit cards anymore while you are trying to pay it down - you have to be very strict - if you don't have the cash, don't buy it...of course things come up so just keep one low interest or 0% interst card for emergencies but don't keep it handy - its really easy to grab a card when you want something. Put it in a drawer and don't touch it. I've never used any of these agencies but I've learned from experience and from advice from others how to do this...

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J.R.

answers from New York on

I was planning on going bankrupt 5 years ago but instead started the process debt consolidation process. i never finished it because it was awful. I ended up negotiating my debt down with the creditors on my own without paying these supposidley "non-profit" people to do it for me. Within a year I was almost debt free. My credit was and still is awful though. I am regretting my decision to not go bankrupt. So basically, my experience was awful and the things they do like negotiating down a debt or getting a lower interest rate can be done on your own. I can give you more nformation if you need it, let me know.
J.

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A.S.

answers from New York on

Avoid the places where you pay them and they pay your debts--they are nitorious for NOT paying even when you pay them, which furthers your debt and worsens your credit. My husband had tons of debt when we first met. He contacted the credit card companies directly and cut deals with them. Yes his credit sucked, but once he got out of debt we worked together to rebuild his credit and when we bought our house, 7 years after he was debt free, his credit rating was in the mid 700s. I also know people who have done credit counseling, where they coach you on how to do it.

Good luck!

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M.B.

answers from Utica on

Just be very cautious, some of those companies will end up making money from you for the debt consolidation. I found myself too deep and I took myself to a lawyer. He offered a free consultation. I did end up filing for Bankruptcy. I still feel a little guilty, but Im a single mom and couldnt see myself paying all that debt back. My credit was good, it was getting bad and it was going to be bad, so that is what I did. Good Luck to you, you are not the only one facing this. Dont just look online, talk to people, even a lawyer and see your options.

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R.M.

answers from New York on

C.,

I am a manager of member services at a credit union. Part of my job is to inform our members of the financial choices available for all types of situations. Here is my advice to you:

Look for a non-for-profit credit counselling service. You will agree not to incur any new debt while you are going through this process. Some people mistake that for having bad credit, however, it just means that you are sticking to your end of the bargain and putting things on hold until you are back on your feet. Car loans, home mortgages and student loans are exceptions.

Your credit counsellor will negotiate with the credit card companies on your behalf, they can usually get late fees and some of the finance charges eliminated. You will pay the counsellor one monthly payment and they will send your payments out to your creditors.

There are some scams out there, so make sure you get a not-for-profit service. If you are a member of a credit union, they might be able to help you find a counselor in your area.

Going through credit counselling is difficult, but it is a step in the right direction. Your credit report will look a lot better than someone who has filed for bankruptcy or just doesn't pay their bills.

Send me a message if you have any questions.

Good luck,
R.

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J.S.

answers from New York on

Hi C.. I haven't used this myself, although I did call a month ago to find out about the program. My brother used this company successfully and recommended it to me. It's Consolidated Credit Counseling and their website is http://www.consolidatedcredit.org/
The reason I didn't sign up is that their payments were only slightly lower than I currently pay and I feel I can get myself out of debt within the same time period as they offered. But I know it worked for my brother, and I'm sure others as well. This one is a good one and does improve credit over time, too because your debt ratio lessens.
Good luck!

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J.F.

answers from New York on

C.,
I know how and what you're going through. We finally took the plunge last July and it was VERY hard at first, but the best thing we ever did. I won't mention how much debt we were in, but it was bad. We were paying about $2000 a month towards CC and with this company we found, we only pay $900. We only have 1 CC w/ about $1000 limit and it's for emergencies ONLY. I don't even know where it is. If we don't have cash, then we don't get it. It was hard on the kids also because mommy never said no because daddy never said no to mommy. We managed and struggled for the first few months with getting use to it, but let me tell you how nice it is to not see those bills each month and not see all of the extra things around the house of items that we really didn't need. The money comes directly out of my husbands paycheck to the company, so we don't have to take care of any of that. Christmas time was very hard because I actually had to budget the kids gifts. I never had a budget in my life. But, Christmas night, going to bed and knowing that all of the gifts I bought were paid with cash, was a wonderful feeling. We have other friends using this company also, and they rave about them. The company is Novadebt in Freehold, NJ. If you can't find the number or have other questions, please feel free to email me. Good luck. Just do it before it gets worse.
J.
[email protected]____.com

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V.M.

answers from New York on

My suggestion would be to call the card companies and try to negotiate yourselves before you try any other avenues. Cancel the cards so you can't use them anymore. If you do decide to go with a 3rd party negotiater, please be very careful. I know several people who were charged so much for these "servies" that they would have saved money by just paying the cards as they could. Also, try reading some books, I recommend the Tightwad Gazette and the "living ona dime" which is also a website with wonderful information and tips. Good luck to you.

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J.G.

answers from New York on

Can you take out a home equity loan?

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G.T.

answers from Rochester on

Thankfully, I have never had to do this, but my daughter has. All I can say is be careful! Before she knew what was happening she had signed papers to have all her debts consolidated for a "small fee". This "small fee" was half her monthly payment! She ended up owing more then her original debt to the consolidation company for their help. And they automatically took the payments out of her bank account. Even if there wasn't enough in the account at the time ending up with overdraw fees, too! Sorry, I don't remember the name of the company she went thru though. Not all of them are like this, but some are. Be sure to read ALL the fine print on the contract and don't sign it unless you know what you are signing.

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R.E.

answers from New York on

just make sure you pay NO money up front

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K.D.

answers from New York on

I am in the same boat, My husband and I chose Consumer Credit and Budget Counseling in Marmora, NJ 888-738-8233, but I also would recommend Counsumer Credit counseling Service of NJ in Cedar Knolls NJ (dont have that number) Both are good reputable non for profit companies, I found them because they are recommended by the State of New Jersey on the NJ government website. (http://www.state.nj.us/dobi/division_consumers/finance/co...) Lets say you have 5 credit cards, you will have to close all 5 accounts. You can't just enroll with 2 or 3 and try to keep the rest. So you close the accounts, the service will negotiate a much lower interest rate and monthly payment according to a aschedule that will get you totally paid off debt free within 3 years. You pay them one payment once a month, and they will disburse that payment to each of the creditors for you. The monthly fee that they charge is based on the number of creditors you are enrolling with, we had 5, for a couple it was 6$/mo per creditor so it's 30$/mo. When you look at what the monthly interest charges and fees were for each one individually with and without the service, it still saves us a lot of money even with that monthly fee. And it is worth it for me to save a lot of the hassle of paying all the cards myself separately at different times of the month, on time. Another bonus is that the creditors and collections must stop calling your house once they recieve the first payment through this service. That was a huge relief! At first, I did try calling the creditors directly and negotiating with them on my own before signing on with the service, but I was not able to get the same reductions that they offer through these services. I dont know anybody who has. My ex husband did this 10 years ago, the same company, and their fees are still the same, so they're not trying to get money out of you, just covering their costs. He had a credit score of like 400s maybe, really BAD, but two years into the program, one year before completeing it and being debt free, his credti score was up to 700. When he completed the program, after 3 years he was debt free, his credit score was 728, and he bought a house with a great interest rate mortgage and everything. Good Luck!

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A.D.

answers from New York on

My husband & I are in the same boat, so you are not alone. I have been with a debt consolidation company since September of last year. The company that I am working with is called New Beginnings 866-531-5552. They are very legit! Call them. You have to be careful because many places will take your money & run. It happened to a friend of mine & she was out $6,000. What New Beginnings does is set you up on a savings plan for 2 -3 years. They will also take a fee for themselves upfront & every month. Each plan is different based on the amount of debt you have & the time frame you will make payments. The good thing about New Beginnings, is that they will reimburse you all your money if they can not get you a settlement on your debt. My suggestion is to open up a separate account for this savings plan. For the next 2 ys you will be putting a specific amount in that account. Once you have enough money, New Beginnings will negotiate with the create card companies for a settlement for 1/2 the amount you owe or less. Example, I had a a 15,000 credit card that they settled for around $7,000. I saved up enough money to pay them off the settlement amount. The only down fall about that is, what ever money you do not pay the credit card company, they consider it income & you have to pay taxes on that money at the end of the year. Sucks, but I was able to get rid of that debt in my life. The other frustrating part is that you have to stop making current payments. Once you start doing that, the credit card companies are going to HARASH!!! you!! Be prepared. They are extremely slick, very mean at times & they will lie to you in order to get money from you. Stay tough & New Beginnings will help you. Call them now. I am in a lot of debt & I am trying my hardest to get out of it. One more thing, your credit will get effected so be prepared for that. Good Luck, C..

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W.K.

answers from New York on

Have you tried snowballing or debt stacking your debt?

To many of those companies ruin your credit by placing notes on your credit report, I know thats not important to you, but many of them charge per accounts... which could be applied to your debt.

I did go thru one of those companies over 10 years ago... they charged me $5 per account. Yes they negotiated the interest rates.. some were zero others were at two... but its something I could have done myself. Then they put on my credit report ' guaranteed by guarantor ' - I have the book by Kevin Trudau - about cleaning up your debt. He says you can do it yourself. I have not tried, but companies would rather you pay some of your debt then get nothing at all. It also mentions that if you can show them your income statement, they will negotiate with you. Companies do it all the time and so can you. Give it a try before you go into those companies.

I now stay away from those companies and stick to debt stacking. Its fast and easy and does not mess up your credit.

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M.B.

answers from Rochester on

C.,

Consumer credit counseling. Google them. There is one in Upstate NY. (I don't know where you are. ) Depending on how things are going, they help you as much as you let them, and your ratings don't go down as much or fast.

First though - you have to stop the SPENDING on credit cards.

Get a check register, and just like you would have to sit and write the check info out, do the same for your ATM//Debit receipts.

There are lots of other ideas out there. Find the ones that work for you.
bratfactor.com. The GOOD book. Get Out Of Debt.
good luck!
M.

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E.S.

answers from New York on

I would never go to an outstanding company that wants to consolidate your debt for you. They have to make money somehow and it will be by means of YOU! I went to my bank-Webster. They gave me their visa card from Webster and it has 0% financing for 6 mo. That way I was able to put a large amount from my other cards onto that visa card and pay strictly for 6 mo. w/o paying interest. Now in 6 mo. it will go up to 7.4% interest but that's a ton less than my 21% I was paying a month ago. Totally worth it. At least it would give you time to pay strictly on the money and no interest. Three of my cards were consolidated and put on that one card!

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M.G.

answers from New York on

Hi,
I have pondered this same issue on quite a few occasions. I looked into Credit Consolidation but there fees are very expensive. Honestly, by the time you are done they have gotten a lot of your $$ and you could have used it towards the credit cards instead. I am with the other lady; use CCCS. Go to NFCC.ORG, closest to us is:

Family & Children's Service (CCCS Division)
106 Apple Street, Suite 105
Tinton Falls, NJ 07724
Appointment #: (800) 873-2227

It's a non-profit organization. They can put you on a debt management plan for really low fees from what I saw. The only reason why I have done it, is that if you do go into their Debt Mgmt, like the other companies, you have to have all the credits cards closed. I don't want to do that so I am still trying to do it on my own.

Good Luck. I hope this helps.
M.

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N.G.

answers from New York on

Hi C., I saw your post here & I can totally relate to where you & your husand are. I was in your position at one point. I wanted to share with you & your husband about how I got rid of my debt. I have my own Pampered Chef business. Are you familiar with The Pampered Chef? We teach budget friendly meals in 29 minutes at $2.00 a serving. I was $over 20,000 in debt & now I have a few payments left. I owe that ALL to my pampered chef business. I thought about claiming bankrupcy but I saw the potential of how much money could be made with a pamperd chef business.
Are you still in this position? If you're in a better situation but still not out of woods yet, I would be happy to answer any questions you have. Feel free to visit www.pamperedchef.biz/nicolegarraputa to check out what we're all about.
I thank god for my business every day. not only have my business got me out of debt, but it restored my credit & when i'm ready to - I'll be able to be a "Stay at Home Mom". Nowing that I have my business, my future is set.
Looking forward to helping you out.
Good luck with everything.
N.
[email protected]____.com
www.pamperedchef.biz/nicolegarraputa
###-###-####

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Y.H.

answers from New York on

Hello C.,

It is unfortunate, we are all feeling that terrible credit card crunch. Hopefully this financial meltdown will be over soon. Be very careful who you choose. I am not sure in which state you reside, but I live in New Jersey and have had luck with Consumer Credit Counseling Services of NJ, Cedar Knolls NJ. www.cccsnj.org. They maybe able to direct you if you are not a resident. If that does not work for you, maybe trying to negotiate directly with your creditors, especially since the economy is so crappy right now. They maybe willing to negotiate better terms or lower rates as long as they are getting paid. Good luck.

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M.G.

answers from New York on

i opened another credit card that had a temporary 0% interest rate on balance transfers and they just set my monthly payments at a certain amount. it took a few years to get out but it was the best thing i could've done for myself. that was 6 years ago and i haven't carried a balance since and i never will again. good luck.

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