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Q&A: Pawn off $10,000 credit card debt on son? No way!

Set budget, get a second job. Don't saddle your kid, says Credit Guy.

By Todd Ossenfort

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The Credit Guy, Todd Ossenfort, is a credit expert and answers readers' questions about credit, counseling and debt issues.

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Question for the CreditCards.com expert

Dear Credit Guy, 
Hi, I have a delinquent credit card for $10,000 and I want to fix my credit again but I don't want to pay 30.99 percent interest on the card and I don't have 10 grand lying around any more. What should I do? My son has one of those Amex cards and has offered to add me to the account and transfer the balance to it. Should I do it that way? Or should I just wait for it to charge off because it has been delinquent for over a year?
-- Senior Delinquent

Question for the CreditCards.com expert

Dear Delinquent,
A delinquent credit card for $10,000 ... hmm ... there's a lot of that going around this time of year. The first thing I noticed in your question is that you state you don't "want" to pay 30.99 percent interest on your credit card balance, not that you "can't" pay. No one wants to pay high interest rates on their credit card balances. Sometimes, however, due to circumstances outside or within our control we must.

Your son may be willing to help you out, but you and your son will be much better off if you resolve this situation on your own very soon. Your son has his own life and credit score to worry about, and I believe you probably have the resources to pay your debt without his assistance.

The 30 percenter club
Getting out of the 30 percenter club on your credit card balance is a great goal but because you have not paid on the card in more than a year, qualifying for a lower interest rate card will be difficult, to say the least.

I recommend that you contact your lender to determine what it will take to bring your account current. Once you know what the lender expects, take a good look at your current financial situation and decide if you can afford to make the payment(s) that it will take to satisfy your lender. See the CreditCards.com calculator "What will it take to pay off my current credit card balance?"  for the gory details.

A 2nd job in your future
It may be time to get a second job or cut back on some entertainment items.  Be sure while you are negotiating on bringing your account current that your lender agrees (in writing) to note on your credit report that the account is now current. It may take up to 90 days for the credit card company to update your credit report.

Bringing your account current accomplishes two things, it gets you back into a good relationship with your current lender and it shows potential lenders that you have straightened out the problems with your account and are now current and paying as agreed.

Pay on time
You will have to pay on time for several months once your account becomes current to begin applying for a lower interest rate card. You might begin with your current lender and let them know you need a lower rate or you will do a balance transfer to another card.   They may not be willing to lower the interest right away but it is worth a try.

If you do transfer your balance to a low interest rate credit card, be sure that you make all payments on time and that you are not charging additional purchases. This includes your telephone bill, utilities and, needless to say, any other credit cards you may have balances on.  Not many folks have 10 grand lying around, but next time you do, make good use of it and pay down your debts!

Take care of your credit!

Todd Ossenfort is the chief operating officer for Pioneer Credit Counseling in Rapid City, S.D. Pioneer Credit Counseling has been a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies since 1997.

The Credit Guy answers a question about a debt or credit issue from a CreditCards.com reader each week.
Send your question to The Credit Guy.

Published: January 8, 2008


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