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Ask The Experts: How Do I Negotiate My Credit Card Balance?

Tuesday, 6 Jan 2009 | 3:42 PM ET

What is the best way to negotiate balances on credit cards? My card company added late charges even though I was in a payment plan. Thank you for your help.-I. Green, FL

This is a great question and do you want to know why? It's great because you're asking how to do it yourself versus going to a debt settlement company to do it for you.

This is very simple. Call your credit card issuer and ask to speak to "loss mitigation." They may call it something else but they'll know what you're referring to. You want to speak with the folks who are empowered to allow you to make a lower payment or pay off the card at a lesser amount. And the best news is that it doesn't cost you a dime for the call. Please keep in mind the following: they don't have to work with you on a payment plan. They can demand that you pay them back in full at the assigned interest rate.

They would be doing you a favor to accept less. Please keep this in mind as you speak with them. My mother always told me that you'll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar. Her wisdom applies here.

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John Ulzheimer is a nationally recognized credit expert, president of Consumer Education for Credit.com and contributor to On The Money. Learn more about him at CreditExpertWitness.com.