Welcome to CRN’s Debt Settlement and Negotiations Guide. This guide makes up the largest portion of the debt relief and credit guides published on this site. That’s because debt settlement does not fit into a tidy package like consolidating credit cards, consumer credit counseling, or bankruptcy. I thought it important to have an introduction to debt negotiation due to the amount, and variations of content, you will find here.
The concept of settling unpaid debts, like credit cards, is not overly complicated, though it is certainly something that cannot fit on a single web page. And once you introduce the different stages of debt collection; and how to negotiate with debt collectors vs settling with your bank; or outline what you can do when settling collections in the court; the content for the debt settlement guide grew larger, and continues to expand.
Credit cards are the most common type of debt that can be negotiated and settled for less than the total balance owed. Much of the debt settlement guide focuses on this from of unsecured debt for that reason. But there are many other types of debts that the guides can be applied to. You will find guides related to settling business debts, medical bills, personal loans, and more, throughout the site.
Get the Most Out of This Debt Settlement Guide
We highly recommend you read through the debt settlement program in order. This will allow you to gain the maximum level of understanding of what credit card debt settlement is, how it will work in your specific situation, when settling debt works best, or even why you might want to avoid debt settlement all together. This recommendation includes any of you reading who may have committed to settling credit card debts that you stopped paying some time ago.
Following the recommended outline for settling credit cards is suggested because:
- Debt settlement, as it is explained by the media, and what is probably more than 10,000 websites, often does not scratch the surface of the topic (it cannot be explained sufficiently in a single article).
- A debt settlement company selling their program to anyone who will listen will often fail at giving you a detailed outline of what they are trying to sign you up for. Opting instead to put profit or sales commission goals in front of your need to be adequately informed.
- You should understand the fundamentals of settling debt so you can weigh the benefits and the drawbacks with clarity – before negotiating and settling debt yourself, or hiring a professional.
Following the way we have laid out this section, no matter what stage of collection you might be in (and especially if you are still current with payments to creditors), puts you in the best position to succeed with debt settlement.
Once you complete your review of our debt settlement guide, you will know more than the majority of sales people who are the front line for selling debt negotiation to the public.
Before You Jump Into Debt Negotiation
CRN advocates settling credit card debt as a personal financial solution. We have provided debt settlement education and debt negotiation services since 2004. We are good at it. We have made our customers, members, and readers good at it. We are also not your Aunt Mildred’s debt settlement company (no offense Mildred).
We have decided to create and publish the online debt relief program for many reasons. We may fully lay out more of the reasoning in a later update to this section, but for now, here is some of the considerations we have in doing this:
Debt settlement works for the right person and the right situation. Debt settlement does not work for the wrong person, nor does it work well for the wrong situation.
We decided to create and publish this guide so that you can tell the difference between whether settling credit card debts is right for you, and if it is, when, why, and how much of your money to put into this method for resolving debt. We hold nothing back. We offer our support freely to the public through dedicated feedback in the comments on virtually every page of the site, and on our DebtBytes YouTube channel.
If we can save you from making uninformed debt and credit decisions that can hurt, rather than help you, we want to. If we can save you money when you settle credit card debts, we will.
What is Debt Settlement?
Debt settlement is what happens when you negotiate a payoff for less than the total balance you owe on a debt. The lower payoff amount will be something the creditor or debt collector agrees to document and accept from you as payment in full. The lower negotiated amount should be something you can afford to pay in one lump sum, or over time if it is a term settlement agreement.
Negotiating and paying a lower amount to settle debts you are already late with is very common. There are elements to settling some types of debts that you can set your clock to because the process can be highly predictable. And there is both safety and comfort in this predictability.
Settling credit card bills, and other debts you cannot afford to keep up with paying, is a pretty straight forward concept. And so is determining whether settling with creditors and collectors is right for you. Let’s start by narrowing down the basic principle of the 3 most common debt solutions to one sentence each.
- Consumer credit counseling and payment consolidation is based on the principle of “What can be paid – should be paid”.
- Debt settlement is based on the principle of “Paying something – is better than nothing”.
- Bankruptcy is based on the principle of “What cannot be paid – won’t be paid”.
If you are looking at debt settlement as a way to deal with problem bills, it is likely because you are in the middle. You cannot fully afford the debts you have now, but can afford something, and would prefer to manage the situation outside of bankruptcy.
How Debt Negotiation Works
Each of your credit card lenders will have a policy for how they handle collecting on accounts that go delinquent. Some of these policies include:
- Getting you back on track by offering reduced payment hardship plans that may be temporarily extended to you for 3 to 12 months, or applied over the life of the balance in a 5 year payback schedule. Read more about credit card hardship payment plans.
- Debt collection efforts internal of the banks own recovery department.
- Charge off your debt as noncollectable and place your account with a collection agency who will bug you over the phone and through the mail to get you to pay.
- Placing your account with a debt collection attorney.
- The legal rights to collect from you could be sold to a debt buyer.
Debt settlement is a method to resolve unpaid credit card bills for less in every one of the scenarios above. That’s as complicated as the debt settlement process will ever be.
Is Settling Debt Right For You?
Ahhh… the details. Yes, getting the best deals, and the most from settling debt, is in the details. And the details when negotiating and settling can change from one creditor to the next; from one collection stage to the next; and most certainly from one personal set of financial concerns to the next.
The majority of what happens in the process of settling credit card debts is controlled by the policies, procedures and protocols that are set up by your creditor or outside third party debt collectors. Knowing the policies and procedures for each of your accounts you will settle, in advance of the settling, is a huge benefit. You simply plan ahead financially for the settlement opportunities that will be presented, and make the right moves along the way.
You can use this site to help you settle your debts on your own. We offer upfront education about the debt settlement process, supplemented by on the ground and “right now” details provided free in the comments section of this website. And you can get one on one dedicated professional feedback by requesting an expert debt settlement consult over the phone.
We know that many people are freaked out by the concept of negotiating and settling credit card debts on their own. You also have access to professional debt negotiators, and often at the most reasonable cost found in the industry. If you would like to talk to me, Michael Bovee, about that, you can reach me at 800-939-8357, choose option 2.
In the next section I will bluntly outline who debt settlement is right for and why debt settlement is a race. You may already be in the race and not know it.
Continue on in the debt settlement guide to How and Why Banks Settle Credit Card Debt with You.
As you will see throughout the site, I respond to reader questions and comments throughout the day, so feel free to post below for feedback.
This Debt Settlement Guide includes:
An Expert Guide to Credit Card Debt Settlement (you are here)
How and Why Banks Settle Credit Card Debt with You
Types of Accounts to Include in Your Debt Settlement Plan
Why Settling Credit Card Debt is Like a Race
How to Settle Credit Card Debt Quickly
How to Talk to a Debt Collector
How to Negotiate Credit Card Debt Successfully Yourself
Get Debt Settlement Letters and Agreements from Collectors
Paying Debt Collectors After You Negotiated a Settlement