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American Express Told Me They Won’t Work With Individuals. – JS

“Dear Steve,

My husband and I have been struggling with credit card debt. In 2004 my husband started a small business which was paying well until the economy took a nose dive. Aug of 2008 we put 5 of our 6 credit cards on a debt consolidation program. Thankfully we are nearing the end of those payments. But we kept one card for “emergencies”, our American Express card.

In 2009 the business really suffered a loss. We were really hurt by having to payout taxes for ’08 (which was our best year) followed by our worst year in ’09. We paid the taxes but started living on credit hoping to make it through the “rough times”. Well months turned into years. Now we have maxed our American Express card at $12,000.

My husband is still working the business and also renewed his insurance license to suppliment that income. I found a job with another company but the income is just not enough. We are still paying credit cards through the debt consolidation program and we are only able to pay the minimum on American Express. We have never been late or missed a payment.

My husband called American Express and asked if they would lower the interest rate so our $237 monthly payment might start chipping away at the debt. American Express told us that they no longer deal with individuals when it comes to interest negotiation. They said they only deal with debt consolidators.

That doesn’t seem right. While we are enrolled in the debt consolidation program we agreed not to apply for any new credit. So if we also turn American Express over to the program we will not have any available credit or be able to apply for any until we are done paying off our debt.

As a side point, we have an old car that is in constant need of repair and we would like to replace it with a used one. We don’t have the income to get it, can’t apply for a loan, but need a car to get to work, to get income, to pay the debt.

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We are honest people. We work our butts off, pay our taxes, cut back any unneccesary spending, live on a survival budget…it’s still not enough. I know our debt is not as bad as others…but we shouldn’t have to miss a payment or go bankrupt to get relief.

Do you have any suggestions??

Do I have to go through a debt consolidation company to negotiate a reduced interest rate with a current credit card? (i.e. American Express)

JS”

Dear JS,

I’m not sure what kind of “debt consolidation” company you are currently working with. I’m sure American Express is talking about you going through a non-profit credit counseling group. If the debt consolidation company you are working with is not a nonprofit group then click here for credit counseling information. If your group is a non-profit group then ask them to add the card to your account.

Generally American Express is a tough creditor to work with. That’s just the way it is.

Please update me on your progress by posting updates here in the comments section of your question. I’m very interested in how this works out for you.

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About the author

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.

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