How can I pay a credit card that has gone to collections?

If you are less than 180 days delinquent, meaning that your account has not been charged off yet, you can simply call your credit card company (their phone number is on the back of your card) and tell them that you want to make a payment.  Keep in mind that because your account has gone into collections, you have some leverage, and can negotiate with your credit card issuer to get them to waive fees, lower the interest rate on your account, offer an affordable monthly payment plan, oreven settle for an amount less than you owe.

If your account has been charged off (i.e. more than 180 days delinquent), it is likely that your credit card issuer has sold the debt associated with your account to a third party – i.e. a collections agency.  Therefore, you need to call back the collections agency that has been contacting you.  You still have leverage if you want to pay the debt off, and can negotiate with a collections agency the same way you would with your credit card issuer.  A collections agency may also be willing to put you on a monthly payment plan, similar to what you were responsible for prior to your account being charged off.  As you decide how to best handle your credit card debt with any collections agency, remember that they will continue to harass you until you satisfy the debt or make arrangements to do so.

If you are looking for options that don’t require you to pay off your credit card debt in full, there are a couple, but they both will have a costly impact on both your credit history and your credit score.   The first is debt settlement, which involves intentionally withholding money from the collections agency to which your account has been assigned.  This is done with the hope that, at some point they will be willing to settle for much less than what you currently owe them.

Then there is bankruptcy – the most severe option.  You should only consider bankruptcy if you find it impossible to pay off your credit card debt, and are facing other significant amounts of debt.  If you go this route, remember that bankruptcy will destroy your credit score, and it will stay on your credit report for up to ten years.

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