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How Can I Get My Credit Card Debt Reduced Without Changes to My Credit Score? – Wondering

“Dear Steve,

My credit score is above 790. I am unemployed and receiving $450/week in unemployment insurance. I have less than $10k in savings and do not own a home. My car is 12 years old. My monthly expenses are $2,500. I owe $21K on 2 credit cards: $17k is at 0% interest until April. $4k is at 12.99% — it went up from 2.99% about 6 months ago and I haven’t been able to negotiate it back down.

How can I get my credit card debt reduced without significant damage to my credit score?

Wondering”

Dear Wondering,

The only way to eliminate your credit card debt and not have it possibly reduce your credit score is going to be to pay it off in full either with cash or maybe a debt consolidation loan from a place like LendingClub.com.

But even then, applying for a loan and getting rejected may reduce your score.

You can’t live to chase your credit score. The score is not a calculation to show how skilled you are in managing your finances. It is a calculated formula for creditors to be able to spot people that may be of less risk to lend money to and generate the most profit.

I would argue that 790 is not really a truly reflection of your current credit score. It seems like you might be in a position right now where your income may not be sufficient to maintain your credit card debt without finding new employment.

If you are having to reach into your savings account to make ends meet each month, be careful. That’s okay for a couple of months but it is not a sustainable solution.

You’ll need to decide if your goal is to eliminate your debt or maximize your credit score in your current situation. You can’t have both.

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Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

9 Comments

  • Steve Im 40,000 in credit card debt mostly from a sole propriter business,card companys raise my interest rate from 5.99to 14.00 never missed a payment always paid 4 to 5 times the min. payment. Im still current but can see things are getting worse.I can’t keep paying the over 500.00 a month in interest and keep my house payment up.do you think I could get them to elimenate the interest.Thanks Sam

    • Sam,

      If you are not adding to the debt and you have extra money to pay above the minimum payments there are options. Can you stop using the cards and pay at least the minimum payment each month and still have money to save?

      Steve

  • I agree with Steve. Wondering has a “quality
    problem” going on and is fine. Wondering needs to
    read more articles regarding finance, the fine print
    & other things cc companies don’t want you to know and
    most importantly, Wondering might want to seek some
    gratitude from his situation. He is one of few
    remaining middle class people left in this country. In the current economy there are a lot of people who would love to be in his situation. Also, before Bush signed off on
    the new bankruptcy laws it was a great way to go if
    your debt was unmanageable BUT not the complete answer.
    I know someone who filed, went through the process with
    a bankruptcy attorney and that was that. Twenty-four
    hours after it was finalized he received a letter from
    a well known auto dealer who not only congratulated him
    but also invited him to test drive new cars as he was
    approved (not pre-approved but approved)for a new car/
    suv through their finance dept. He did it and purchased
    the most expensive suv on the lot. Since then he’s
    received credit cards and is right back where he left
    off before filing bankruptcy. This is why I said earlier
    that bankruptcy was not a complete solution. His problem
    wasn’t the debt itself. His problem that needs to be
    worked on is managing his money. The debt was a symptom
    that was deep enough to push him into filing. Now he
    can not file for ten yrs and it may be a very long
    ten years for this person. Sorry about carrying on,
    M

  • Untrue, Steve. In fact, it’s flat out false and I can’t believe I’m reading the recommendations that you’re making. Bankruptcy should be the LAST resort people turn to. Bankruptcy is a matter of public record, which remains on your credit report for up to 10 YEARS. It will severely deal a harsh blow to your credit and will be a cause for many declines in credit later on down the line. Try purchasing a home or car right after a BK. Not going to happen. You may not be able to eat a credit score, but it may prevent you from eating. What are you telling these people Steve?

  • Thanks, Steve. Good thoughts. I really appreciate your help and expertise. It’s wonderful that you do this for free.

    I’m still confused about whether I could try to negotiate a reduction in what I owe without destroying my credit record. I understand that my score would go down, as it should. And I’m comfortable paying what I owe each month, but if I could reduce and then immediately pay off what I owe it could be worth it to bite the bullet.

    So, what is likely to happen if I call a credit card company and tell them I’m unemployed and want to reduce what I owe and pay it off in a lump sum. Will they laugh? Will my interest rate be increased, pronto? What about the interest rate on my other card? Will all my cards be canceled? Will my credit score, which I’ve worked hard to improve over the years, be cut in half? Should I even care if it is?

    Maybe I wouldn’t fret so much about the score, but now employers check potential employees’ credit before hiring.

    • Wondering,

      Honestly, if you call them when you are current they will be polite but offer you nothing. To get any concessions you need to be about 90 days behind and that hurts your credit.

      As far as reducing what you owe, they are not going to be interested in that till your account charges off at about 180 days. By then you may have been sued as well and of course the credit is now even more shot.

      You could opt for a credit counseling program but the cards will be closed by the banks involved and that will lower your credit score.

      The employment credit check thing is a scare tactic. Few people get rejected for jobs from credit reports. In fact a friend of mine that is going through bankruptcy right now just got a new job with a security clearance.

      The only way to reduce your debt and be protected from collections, lawsuits and debt collectors is with bankruptcy. After bankruptcy your credit can be easily rebuilt.

      You’ll wind up creating more stress and wasting more time hanging on to a credit score than addressing the underlying issue so you can move forward with a better life.

      Steve

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