How To Get Credit Card Companies To Lower Minimum Payments

The problem with using credit cards is that although they make it seem like they’re magic buy-everything passes, eventually you get bills and have to pay for all that stuff you bought.

Kira at Money Crashers says she found herself unable to handle even the minimum payments on her cards, but was able to negotiate lower payments with every one of the banks she owed.

She recommends calling the number on the back of your card and letting them know you can’t handle the payments but are willing to work out an alternative payment program. She advises putting a budget together so you can be realistic about what payments you’ll be able to handle.

Bear in mind that if you can afford your minimums, you should definitely pay them, and do all you can to get rid of your debt in order to avoid drowning in interest.
Credit Card Debt Reduction Story: How I Got My Minimums Reduced [Money Crashers]


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  1. Joseph S Ragman says:

    Wow … seems to me, if you get them to lower your monthly payments, the longer it will take to pay off the balance

    • Abradax says:

      Sometimes that is true.

      Credit card companies will work with you, most of the time closing the account in exchange for regular monthly payments and a reduced interest rate.

      However if you miss a payment, the arrangement goes away and you have a higher interest rate and payment again.

      • BigErn says:

        why are you spending beyond your means???

        • ecwis says:

          It’s fun.

        • Bibliovore says:

          BigErn: Sure, some have simply spent beyond their means. For some, though, debt may be due to an emergency situation, like repairs or health care or urgent travel. For others, expenditures may not have seemed beyond their means when made but were followed by major unexpected expenses or loss of income. Some people have simply learned some hard money lessons since they first got into debt, and are now attempting to pay things off without defaulting or declaring bankruptcy.

          Agreed, getting the minimum payments lowered wouldn’t help debt reduction without also getting the interest rates lowered to where the monthly minimum is less than the monthly interest, but it’s better than not making the minimum payments.

        • jamar0303 says:

          Also, some people are of irregular means.

  2. Macgyver says:

    One easy solution to credit cards. Don’t put shit on their that you can’t afford.

    • cbelson says:

      *insert comment about using credit cards out of necessity sometimes – ex: your car breaks down, you don’t have the 800 bucks cash to replace the wangdoodle belt, but you have the space on your credit card, and considering you’re a sales rep and your job basically centers around driving to your accounts…*

      In other words, by and large, you’re right. Just remember that sometimes, you can’t help it. :-)

      • evnmorlo says:

        If your job requires travel but doesn’t pay enough to cover vehicle maintenance…

        • cbelson says:

          It was just an example… :-)

          • frank64 says:

            The problem is any time there is a posting about minimization debt an example is used that is supposed to invalidate the whole concept. The exception is NOT the rule. Then the “its’ easy for you to say” comes out. There may be exceptions, but in general, lets say it is much better to live within your means and have a little cushion.

      • clownsRcreepy says:

        The wangdoodle isn’t belt driven…

    • jamar0303 says:

      Or, on the off-chance that you need to (if something happens to you and you’re uninsured, because not everyone who can’t get an insurance plan in the US can get a plane ticket to China to buy a global “cover-everything” 1-year health insurance policy there for cheaper than back in America, if you just plain screwed up, etc) try to find a card with an interest rate that won’t kill you.

      • TasteyCat says:

        If you have a $800 surprise bill, your minimum should be about $15. The people who can’t pay their minimums aren’t talking about one unexpected expense. They’ve got tens of thousands that they’ve built up over years.

      • frank64 says:

        In general you should never put a health care bill on a credit card. You can pay these bills in installments, and often get a discount. The “discount” the give you to pay that day is much less than you could get later. I went through it and made a mistake by charging.

  3. Geosama says:

    Here’s what I did although it’s really based on luck and on how desperate debt collectors are. About 3 years ago I owed about $25k, I simply couldn’t live and make payments at the same time anymore. I stopped paying (my credit went to hell) and those debt collectors called me and we basically negotiated away about 40%, Not bad I’d say. The only other drawback is that it’s considered a “cancellation of debt” and is taxable. But still, saving about 11k…i took it!

  4. shopalooza says:

    You shouldn’t even aim at just paying the minimum because you’ll end up paying more towards the interest than the principal. I am debt free right now except for the 0% interest for 1 year cash advance my sister used ($1000) in my account. She’s paying it off within 10 months at $100 per month. People should start thinking that a credit card is not free money whenever they swipe it. You want to eat at a fancy restaurant and use your CC? Don’t if you don’t plan to pay it off once you get your CC bill. And just in case you’re wondering, my sister was in a bad 29.99% APR credit card for her dental bill and that’s where she used the money. (3% cash advance fee is definitely a lot better that a rolling 29.99% interest)

    • kazulanth says:

      In the article it says she was paying for 2 other adults who didn’t have jobs in her household. Life doesn’t always happen in a financially practical way.

  5. GMFish says:

    If you can’t make the minimum payment of your credit card, that’s the least of your worries. Everyone knows that the minimum payment can never pay off your credit card debt.

    Instead of paying less each month, your main concern should be earning more. Get a second job, any job that pays money.

    And stop every reoccurring bill that does not directly lead to sustaining your life, cable, netflix, wireless phone, etc. Unless you’ll directly die without it, or earn less without it, stop paying for it.

  6. junip says:

    You’d better be in some pretty dire straits if you can’t even make the minimum payment on your credit card. If you’ve run up a balance of leisure purchases when you have no money, then you’re really doing it wrong.
    Credit cards shouldn’t be used to have a pretend life you can’t afford, and should only be used as a way to “borrow” money when you’re backed into an emergency financial corner. Really the best use for a credit card is to protect your purchases, and avoid the hassle of trying to get your actual money back if a company overcharges you.
    My mother doesn’t understand any of this, and still thinks credit cards are evil things that cause her to spend too much money, because she herself couldn’t possibly be responsible for spending too much money.. :p

    • frank64 says:

      Yeah, my father is the same way, good thing he lost the ability to have a credit card a long time ago. He thinks if we have a little money that it is money that should be spent. The whole concept of tomorrow and money is just non existent. He is broke but will go out to dinner with what little he has and then hopefully come up with rent later. If he borrows we never get it back, we learned to say no, but then we are misers and mean.

      • BigErn says:

        pathetic that our great country is filled with such morons, financially speaking. and they are clueless to the impact they’re having on the overall picture.

    • ludwigk says:

      Psychologists understand this phenomenon where credit acts as an abstraction from the spending of money, and causes people to spend more as a result. Personally, I don’t think that I’m affected by this, because I always think about the balance of two amounts when I make a purchase: the amount on my credit card, and the amount in my checking account. If I can’t get my credit card down to zero each month, I stop buying things.

      The modern role of consumer credit is substantially different from the paradigm that existed before a certain time period, about 25+ years ago. It was only in the last few decades when credit cards exploded, and during the 80s and 90s that they became as omnipresent as we now find them. My theory is that people who grew up using primarily cash will have a much harder time adapting to this “abstraction” effect, causing them to more easily overspend. People who grew up with credit cards and paying them back will more readily comprehend the costs of the things they purchase on credit. Just my theory. No proof or support for it whatsoever.

      • MeOhMy says:

        An interesting perspective…I know in my own experience I am around the age where things really started going cash-free. Aside from high school/college jobs, I’ve always gotten paid by direct deposit, always used an ATM to get money out of the bank, etc. For the most part “money” has never been green pieces of paper and metal discs so much as a number in a database somewhere (which is a frightening proposition if you think about it). So like you that layer of abstraction represented by the payment card has never served to keep me from tracking the numbers behind it. I’ve never thought “Oh, I’ve got a $10k card limit, let me go spend $10k!”

        That said, it cannot be strictly a generational thing because I still know so many young people who go apesh!t buying gadgets and cars and whatever else. Some people just suck at the finance.

  7. kazulanth says:

    I love how everyone has helpful comments on you shouldn’t ever get into debt, and if you do you’re a horrible despicable stupid person, but none about how to get out of it. I’m in debt and you better believe I’m taking every opportunity I can to earn extra money to get out of it. But you can’t un ring a bell and you can’t un spend what’s already spent.

    • richcreamerybutter says:

      Don’t forget how, even if you’ve cut out most or all nonessential expenses, you’re not truly doing so unless your diet consists of beans and rice three times a day and wardrobe is converted to a closet of potato sacks. Remember, you are allowed no small, occasional pleasures, arbitrary and exponential interest increases notwithstanding.

      • frank64 says:

        If you are going to ring up a bill that makes it so you can’t afford your minimum payment then I think you should stop. Go ahead and charge up if you want, but some of us will continue to post that you should stop.

  8. dg says:

    When you use a credit card, you shouldn’t put more on it than you can pay off in 1 month – during the grace period, before interest, blah blah blah.

    If you DO happen to have to put something on the card for an emergency, then you need to pay MORE than the minimum payment until it’s paid off in full. Don’t use that card for anything new until you pay it off.

    Emergencies are not: OMG! Cool Shoes! NFL Sunday Ticket. Rims for the ride. Or other nice-to-have stuff. Emergencies are: Hole in roof to patch while insurance pays off (or doesn’t). Broken windows during robbery. Severe life-threatening injuries that you go to dr/hospital to handle. Medication.

    If you can’t afford your bills – cut all the non-essentials like cable, beer, soda, cigarettes, candy, movies, etc. then look at what else you can reduce. Cut utilities by turning down the heat, put on slippers or sweats. Cut water usage. Cut electric usage – take out 50% of the light bulbs from a fixture (if possible). Replace with CFL if possible. Cut garbage pickup. Drive less. Look for better deals on insurance. Don’t buy what you don’t absolutely need. Move if you have to (balance lower rent with higher vehicle costs, deposits, etc).

    Cutting out cigarettes and cable can save hundreds per month depending on what package you have, and how much you smoke.

  9. Kibit says:

    The woman who wrote the article racked up debt because of being unemployed and having to pay for food and rent. She has so far payed off over $6000 in debt and will have it all payed off in less than 5 years.

    Is this a perfect situation? No, but she is taking responsibility for her debt. There are a lot of people (an corporations for that matter) who refuse to take responsibility for their actions and their debt.

  10. gman863 says:

    Sometimes it’s not having to negotiate a lower payment — it’s trying to avoid the credit card issuer raising it.

    I have two friends who were current on their accounts. Out of the blue, each had a major credit card issuer change their terms from a minimum monthly payment of 2% of the balance to either 3% or 4%.

    This doesn’t sound bad until you do the math: On a $7500 balance, 2% was $150/month. 3% is $225; 4% doubles the minimum to $300 per month.

    “Mike” was smart: He called the credit card issuer to “opt out” of the change in terms by closing the account. This allowed him to (so long as he kept his payments current) keep paying the 2% minimum at the existing interest rate. Within a year, he managed to pay roughly two-thirds of the balance and roll the remaining $3000 or so to a new card with a lower interest rate.

    “Cindy” didn’t do as well. After calling Citibank, arguing the min. pmt. increase and losing, she kept the account open and quit paying. Although it eventually went do a debt collector and was settled for about 40 cents on the dollar, her credit score has dropped about 200 points as a result. Luckily she already owns a home and newer car. Aside from high-risk, high-fee, low credit limit cards, she’s toast for at least the next five years on getting any type of new credit at a decent interest rate.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      New CC law says that if you don’t like your new interest rate, you can refuse to pay for it. The card issuer will close your card, and you will make payments as normal on your original rate.

      Complainers of the new law usually “forget” about this aspect.

      • Bsamm09 says:

        So then you just have no credit card? Did you “forget” the account is closed and if you want another credit card your interest rate will be higher.

        • gman863 says:

          There are hundreds of banks and credit unions who offer MasterCard and Visa. Unless your credit score sucks beyond belief, a little research can usually result in one or more cards that are lower than the average (14.9-19.9%) rates.

          With a credit score over 700; here’s my hand in the game of Credit Card Poker:

          * Capital One: 8.9% fixed, no annual fee

          * BBVA Compass: 7.24% variable, no annual fee

          * Credit Union: 9.9% fixed, no annual fee

          My Cap One card is the only one with a current revolving balance. If they try to pull any shit with my rate, I’ll pay the 3% transfer fee and move the balance to another account.

  11. AgostoBehemoth says:

    A few years ago, I found Citi was charging me the default interest rate – something like 29 or 32%… I called them up and found that I’d evidently been late a day several months before.

    I asked them to please lower the interest rate – and was told there was nothing they could do, I remember the guy thanked me for being a good customer and tried to sign me up for some sort of “consumer protection” racket…

    So – I did a balance transfer to another card, one that offered 0% for transferred balances for 9 months… (I did pay it off before the 9months). Then I called Citi back up and told them I was cancelling the card – they transferred me to an “account retention specialist” who offered to lower my interest rate to 12%. I lit into her – and said, when I needed it done, you refused to help, now that I owe you nothing – and am threatening to leave, you suddenly offer to lower it??? No thank you.

    Citi is on my list of companies never-to-do-business-with-again. That list seems to get longer and longer.

    I’m debt free today. I use my credit cards on occasion, but always pay the balance in full. To-date this year – interest paid to credit cards is $0.


    • frank64 says:

      Good for you. I dropped Citi when they wanted to raise my rate. I was able to opt out and pay the lower rate. A no brainier. Good thing to because I found those that accepted the higher rate had it raised again! Not enough people do that though or they wouldn’t do it.

  12. MaelstromRider says:

    I didn’t have problems with the minimum payment, but rather with the interest rates. I was able to work with Chase and Bank of America to drop my interest rates to between 5%-8% and get on 5 year plans. I have had 0 luck with HSBC. They refused to deal with me and would only deal with a credit counseling agency… Well, I don’t need to deal with a credit counseling agency because they’re the only card I have that is being obnoxious.

    Anyone have any luck dealing with HSBC? It’s frustrating to be finally starting to get a handle on things but just be pissing away money to them on minimum payments at high interest.

    And to those who are all blah blah, debt is evil, blah blah blah, don’t live beyond your means, most of the debit is from medical expenses.

    • jamar0303 says:

      I think that in general they tend to be more accommodating to Premier customers, though given that you’re in the situation you’re in now you’re highly unlikely to be one.

  13. KimberlyC says:

    Another option is looking into a balance transfer. This is not a good option for everyone, but for people in certain situations it can give them 0% interest on their debt for awhile. This way their minimum payments don’t continue to grow and it gives them a chance to get on their feet.