7

My Chase Credit Card vary their payment date each month by a day or two each month, claiming that it is "related to different number of days each month."

So naturally, it is easy to throw me off as to whether the payment is due on the 7th or 6th, and together with the 2pm Pacific cut-off time, they have enjoyed collecting $39 twice plus about $80 of finance charge because the payment was either a few hours late or a day late.

To top it off, they bump up the interest rate to 27.9% because it was late twice.

And then I saw some commercials on TV, saying that they can reduce your debt.

Are they useful? I also heard that those programs may hurt your credit score.

  • Not an answer, but a tip: if you use online billpay, schedule a payment for half the minimum payment on a biweekly basis. If you accidentally pay your regular bill a day or two late, you will pay an extra day's worth of finance charge, but you won't get dinged for the $39 late fee. – bstpierre Sep 24 '10 at 1:49
  • It is my understanding that payment due date is the same each month, especially after the credit card rules in Feb 2010: federalreserve.gov/consumerinfo/wyntk_creditcardrules.htm – Sun Dec 8 '14 at 23:06
7

From what I understand, they basically hold on to your money while you stop paying your debt. They keep it in an account and negotiate on your behalf. The longer you go without paying, the less the debt collector is willing to take and at some point, they will settle. So they take the money you've been putting into their "account" and pay it down. Repeat the process for all your accounts.

I basically did this, without using a service. I had $17,000 on one card and they bumped the interest rate to 29%, and I had lost my job.

I didn't pay it for 7 months. I just planned on filing bankruptcy. They finally called me up and said, if you can pay $250 a month, until it's paid off, we will drop the interest to 0% and forgive all your late fees.

I did that, and five years later it was paid off. Similar situation happened on my other cards. It seems once they realize you can't pay, is when they're willing to give you a break. It'd be nice they just never jacked up your rate to 30% though.

So, forget the service, just do it yourself. Call them up and ask, and if they don't budge, don't pay it. Of course your credit will be shot. But I'm back in the 700s, so anything is possible over time.

  • 2
    +1 for do it yourself. If you are having trouble paying things, you should learn to handle this yourself as 1) a cost savings measure and 2) valuable lessons on how credit works. – MrChrister Sep 23 '10 at 15:27
5

They don't do anything you can't do yourself and they charge you money for it. And of course the only way they manage to negotiate the debt down is by not paying it for a while in the first place, have it referred to collections and then negotiating with the collectors. At that time, your credit rating (if you care about that at all) will have suffered a lot more damaged than it is from a few late payments.

I would address the issue as to why you end up paying late first - it sounds to me like you're cutting the time left to pay to the bone and this turned around and bit you in the you-know-where.

In case you are able to pay but not organised enough to do it on time, find a way to remind yourself to pay the bill a few days early for peace of mind. That won't do anything about the 28% interest but those might serve as an additional motivation to pay the debt off faster. Once you're back to showing regular on-time payments on your credit record, you might want to investigate transferring the balance to a cheaper card or negotiate the interest down (or both).

If you genuinely can't pay after you've taken care of the essentials (food, shelter, transportation) then you don't need a third party to stop paying the credit card bill, you can do that yourself.

4

No. Not in the Uk anyway, they are just an extra person/company that you have to pay.

4

They are a complete waste of money, see my answer here for more details.

2

Many of the services are scams, and those that are not are just doing something you can do yourself - as Jack points out.

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