Step 1: Intent to pay
Since we moved to the condo unit and changed my phone number, the bank couldn’t contact me for two years. I had the initiative of phoning them again even though I still had no money ready in my pocket to pay. I still had zero savings in my bank account, but I called them anyway. I was still living from paycheck to paycheck, but I have the intention to pay. I started by negotiating on the amount.
Step 2: Onetime payment
I set myself for a one-time payment option instead of an installment plan because I knew that onetime payment would allow me to get a huge discount by requesting for all fees (late fees, over-limit fees, annual fees, etc) that incurred on my account to be waived, so I only need to pay for the principal balance. I knew that the bank wouldn't give me such a huge discount on fee waivers if I won’t be paying one-time, big time.
Step 3. Haggle to the highest level
My P65,000 credit card balance in 2009 already went up to more than P100,000 in 2011 due to compounded interest. From the P100,000 balance, the bank lowered it down to P95,000 after removing some recent fees. I certainly did not have P95,000 to pay it off one time. I insisted to remove all fees incurred from the beginning of time. The next month, they called me again and advised that they reduced the balance to P90,000, which I still don’t have, so the following month, it was reduced to P85,000, then P80,000. I negotiated for six months, from August 2011 up until February 2012, until the offer was lowered down to P45,000. That was already below my initial balance. I wanted to pay already, but my savings weren’t enough yet. That same week, they called again and reduced it to P40,000. Still no P40,000. Then they reduced it to P36,000. The representative on the phone said that’s the last stretch. Upon hearing it, I told the agent “make it P30,000, and I will pay today as soon as I get off the phone with you.” The representative placed me on hold and asked for a manager's approval. On that same day of February 17, 2012, I cleared my P100,000+ credit card debt with just a P30,000 one-time payment.
Imagine that! From 100k to 30k! that’s a 70% discount from the original price!
I came back home, holding the certificate of clearance tightly in my hand, smiling from ear to ear, and I couldn’t be happier as if that’s the happiest February of my life even though I got no love life!