I’m on a Fixed Income and Can’t Afford My Minimum Credit Card Payment. – Theresa


“Dear Steve,

I’m on a fixed income and finding it more and more difficult to pay my credit card’s monthly minimum payment. My credit is already pretty well shot as I had to let my car go (voluntarily repossessed) last summer and I’m currently in negotiation to settle a small business loan (SBA).

That leaves my Capital One card, which is a minimum of $100.00 per month. My fixed income is a pension of $387.00 a month plus $250.00 from at-home contract employment with the local university. I also have an online business which is barely creaking by although I do anticipate the business to pick up because the product I sell is a good one and I have gotten a few orders since starting; however, that will take time.

I’m continuing to look for more work but it is slim pickings and difficult without a vehicle (I take public transit which is expensive). I would like to pay this card off but it’s down to either the card or food on the table. ( I’m current on my credit card right now.) I’m 57 and still in reasonably good health; however, I experienced a work injury two years ago which left me with a cervical spine injury and doctor’s recommendation to retire early.

Should I write to Capital One and explain my situation or should I let the card just go to default?


Dear Teresa,

The politically correct answer is that it never hurts to contact your creditors and explain your situation.

That being said, it won’t help much. While Capital One may offer you a slightly reduced payment, once you fall behind, that really does nothing to address the underlying problem of too little income. Based on what you are currently making I don’t see how you could promise to make any payment.

If you don’t pay Cap One they will put your card into collections, charge it off after 6 months, sell the debt to an outside company and the new debt owner will go back after you again. If at any time they decided to sue you then you could go bankrupt and eliminate the debt and suit.

One approach would be to stop paying and do nothing. Don’t let the collectors wind you up and certainly don’t make any promises to pay money you can’t afford to pay each and every month until the debt is cleared.

It sounds like you might be eligible for SSDI and some public benefits, including SNAP. You should check out these programs and see what you can get. After all, you paid into these programs with your tax dollars all those years you worked. Now that you need it, get it.

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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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