Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
3 minutes reading time (676 words)

Are Your Credit Cards Stressing You Out?

Dealing with financial problems can be tough, especially when it comes to credit card. Monthly payments, balances, due dates, past due balances, and collection calls can be very stressful. It’s hard not to worry about credit cards, but the key to relieving your stress is to figure out how you can start solving your problems.

Don’t ignore your credit cards. If you just neglect your credit cards, the problems will only get worse. Right now you may be a little past due, but as your bill comes more delinquent, your creditor will take more severe actions. You may even be sued for your outstanding credit card debt. Deal with your credit cards head on rather than allowing the problems to compile.

Make a list of your credit cards. It’s said that knowledge is power. The same tenet can apply to your credit cards. The more you know about your situation, the better you can deal with the issues. On your list, write the name of the credit card, the balance due, interest rate, minimum payment, and payment status, e.g. current, past due, charged-off, or in collections. If you’re past due write down the amount you need to pay to get caught up.

Once you review the list, you may feel a little relieved that your credit card problems aren’t as big as you thought. For example, if you’re not past due on your accounts, you’re still in good shape. You may be able to make some changes to your budget to better afford your monthly payments.

Kick other people off your accounts. If authorized users or joint account holders are running up your bill, get those people away from the account. It’s a little easier to remove an authorized user; all you have to do is call your creditor and ask. Joint accounts are more difficult to separate since you both are co-signers on the account. You’ll likely have to work with the other accountholder toward a mutually beneficial solution. For example, you can each transfer your part of the balance to your own credit card and then cancel the joint account.

Call your creditors and ask for help. You may be surprised at how much assistance you can get from your credit card issuers. If you’re past due, they may be able to waive a late fee or two so you can get caught up again. Or, request a lower interest rate so your finance charges will drop and more of your payment can be applied to your credit card balance.

Consider consumer credit counseling. A consumer credit counselor can help you review your budget to decide what you can do to ease some of the financial pressure. The counselor may suggest a debt management plan where you pay off your credit card payments in 4-6 years. If your creditor agrees to the plan, they’ll lower your interest rate and minimum payment to make it easier to pay off your debts. The catch is that you can’t use your credit cards in the meantime.

Figure out how you can get caught up. Credit counseling and direct creditor negotiations may not be an option if you’re behind on your accounts. Creditors typically require your account to be in good standing before they’ll approve a hardship payment plan or debt management plan. Review your savings and monthly budget to figure out if you can scrape together enough money to pay off the past due balance. It may require you to end some services or cut back in other areas, but it’s only temporary until you can get caught up.

Realize you can only take it one step at a time. Unless you come into a large lump sum of money, your credit card problems won’t end overnight. Instead, it may take several months before you can get back on the right track. Review and update the plan frequently so you know where you stand. In the meantime, try to find peace of mind knowing that you have a plan in place to solve your credit card problems.
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Monday, 26 July 2021

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