In general, your credit card company wants its money back – all of it. part of your agreement when using the card is that you'll pay back all the charges you've made, plus any interest and fees that you accrue.
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But, in some cases, credit card issuers realize that getting everything you owe simply isn't realistic. Or that chasing you through a collections agency or lawyer to recoup funds isn't worth the expense.
Credit card debt is unsecured, meaning your creditors can't take your house or car or garnish your wages without legal intervention. And creditors know if you file for bankruptcy, they might never see a penny of repayment.
If you're experiencing significant financial hardship, you may be unable to make the payments necessary to free yourself from perpetual debt. When faced with the possibility of getting no repayment from you at all, your credit card company may be willing to negotiate with you for less than the full amount. However, settling debts for less than what you owe isn't always a strong financial choice.
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What Is Credit Card Debt Settlement?
Negotiation is where debt settlement comes in. "A debt settlement is basically an agreement that you would make with your creditor," says Katie Bossler, a financial counselor at Greenpath Financial Wellness. "The creditor would agree to accept less than the amount owed to satisfy the debt." She adds that debt settlement amounts generally fall in the range of 50 to 80 percent of the balance.
Here's how one debt settlement scenario might play out. Suppose you owe $7,000 on a credit card you haven't paid in several months. Your creditor has reported your delinquency to the credit bureaus, and your late payments now appear on your credit report and negatively impact your credit score.
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However, your creditor is willing to settle the debt and agrees to a lump-sum settlement of $5,000. You pay the $5,000 in full to your creditor by the agreed-upon deadline. Your creditor, in turn, writes off the forgiven debt of $2,000 and reports to the credit bureaus that you've successfully settled the debt.
However, this clear-cut scenario isn't always the reality of debt settlement.