Many people have never heard of a hardship program or know that these programs even exist. Hardship programs are programs that many creditors provide to clients that are having difficult making their payments. Typically, with a hardship program, you will receive a reduced interest rate and payment. I have listed below some of the creditors that I know for sure have programs. However, please do not limit yourself to these. Most creditors offer some type of program where they can assist you with payments.
Wal-Mart Hardship Program
Call the creditor number on the back of your card or your statement. Ask the representative for a “hardship program.” The representative will then refer you to the “collections department.” Don’t be threatened or worry about this. It is simply the department that handles hardship programs. Simply tell them you have experienced a reduction in income and you are unable to make your minimum payment. The representative will ask you how much you are able to pay. I would go for at least half of your monthly payment. They will set you up on a 6-month or 12 month plan, your preference. This will reduce your monthly payment. If you pay them on time each month under this plan, they will refund 25% of your interest each month back to your card balance (which brings your balance down further).
Chase Hardship Program
Call the creditor number on the back of your card or your statement. Ask the representative for a “hardship program.” It is very difficult to get on Chase’s hardship program. You have to have a large enough balance because they spread your payment out over 60 months. They also ask you certain questions to ensure that you will be able to make a payment. These questions include the following: What is your hardship (reduction of hours, medical issue, or some event that will cause you not to be able to make the payment)? This hardship does not include “your interest rates are too high and my debt is not going down. So, don’t even try to establish that as a hardship. When your hardship began? How much of a payment you can make? What your household income is? What your mortgage or rent payment is? What are you payments on any other secured loans (cars, boats, rvs, any type of property)? Are you paying student loan payments? If so, how much? Do you have any other secured lines of credit (like a line of credit on your home)? Once they tally up your income minus your payments for these things and basic necessities like food, electric, etc, if you have money left over, you would qualify.
Dell Hardship Program
For this creditor, you would also call and ask about a “hardship program.” Dell does offer a hardship program, but you have to be behind on your payment with them. Again, you would need to answer some similar questions with this creditor regarding your income and how much of a payment you can afford.
American Express Hardship Program
American Express is like the golden boy of hardship programs. I wrote a previous posts on this creditor and getting on their hardship program. Check it out here. They typically offer a 12-month hardship program where you pay 0% interest for 6 months, and then 9.99% for the remaining 6 months. You will be asked similar questions regarding your financial status such as what is your hardship and what payment can you afford to make?
Barclays Bank Hardship Program
Barclays Bank offers a hardship program to it’s client’s as well. Although, I do not have the specific requirements, I can tell you that they used to require you to be 30 to 60 days past due to qualify. However, just recently, I have discovered that they have changed these requirements. If you have a very large balance with them, and reduced income or some other hardship, they will more than likely grant some type of hardship program to you. If not, they will refer you to a credit-counseling agency and will grant benefits through this as well if you qualify.
These are just a few examples of creditors that provide hardship programs to their customers. If you have credit cards with crazy high interest rates, really anything over 9.95% is crazy high, then I would suggest you contact each one and request a hardship program. With the reduced interest rates and payments, you can do a better job at focusing all your money towards one debt, while making small minimum payments with minimal interest to the others. This can save you thousands depending on the number of credit cards you have. So, give it a try. It never hurts to ask. The worst they can say is no. And, the best that could happen is you save over $1000 interest on just one card.
I would love to hear your comments on reducing interest rates and asking for hardship programs. Please post them below and encourage others to take the first step!