Ten of the major credit card companies, under pressure from the public, have announced changes in debt management plans allowing individuals and families the opportunity to lower payments and qualify for enhanced "benefits" in recognized Credit Counseling Services programs.
This new plan creates a tiered system that will qualify consumers for special programs (benefits) they would not otherwise qualify for. These new benefits essentially lower interest rates and minimum payments, waive late fees and sometimes re-age accounts bringing them to a current status. This new plan allows individuals to repay debt obligations in a manageable monthly program and ultimately bring balances to zero.
Many financially strapped families struggling to avoid bankruptcy, who before were not eligible for a Debt Management Plan under the former stricter criteria, will now qualify for debt management programs due to "hardships". Under the new program, following the new criteria, a debtor may qualify for either a 1.75 percent monthly repayment rate or a 2 percent monthly repayment rate depending on each individual's situation.
"We've always had a "hardship program in place" says Stephen Marcus, Chief Executive Officer of A New Horizon Credit Counseling Services in Fort Lauderdale. "The problem was that it was difficult to get creditors to recognize the value of our hardship programs, but now, under public pressure and in today's tough economic climate, they have embraced these new programs as a way to effectively assist the debtor in regaining control of their finances."
The credit cards participating so far in this new program are American Express, Bank of America, Chase Card Services, CITI, Discover Financial Services, GE Money, HSBC Card Services and Wells Fargo Card Services.