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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


To lower credit card costs, consider the following ideas, each of which are discussed in other sections of this article:

  • Contact the company ahead of time if you have to miss a payment.
  • Ask for a waiver of fees.
  • Ask for a lower rate of interest from the regular rate of interest, and particularly if interest is raised.
  • Do what you can to pay down your balance.
  • Transfer balances to new or existing credit cards with lower rates.
  • Consolidate your credit card debt into non-credit card debt.

There are also steps you can take to help pay down a credit card balance as quickly as possible.

There are also steps to take if your use of credit cards is out of control.


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Contact The Credit Card Company Ahead Of Time If You Have To Miss A Payment

If you're having a crunch and can't pay the minimum due on a credit card, call the credit card company immediately -- preferably before the payment is due.

Let the company know about your medical condition and how it's causing the crunch. Perhaps ask for a reduction in your monthly payments, and a waiver of any penalties for this late payment -- particularly if you've been making past payments on time. You may be able to get away with one late payment if you call ahead of time. If so, ask if the company will report it to the credit bureaus as paying on time.

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Ask For A Waiver of Fees

It's possible to get fees waived -- whether they are annual fees or fees for late payment.

Annual fees: There's nothing like the threat of closing the account to get a company to agree to waive annual fees. The more you charge to the account, the more likely the company will say yes.

Late payment fees: If you've been socked with fees for paying late, and your general history is that you pay on time, call the company and ask for a waiver of the fees.

If it's the first time, a waiver is generally granted just because of the call. If you get resistance, tell the company about your health condition and what happened that resulted in the late payment.

If the person with whom you speak doesn't grant the waiver, ask to speak with a supervisor.

Ask For A Lower Rate Of Interest

Consider calling each of your credit card companies to ask for a lower rate of interest. You can do this with the company's "regular" rate -- and particularly if your rate is raised because of a late payment or other reason.

Before you call think about everything you can use that will help you get a lower rate. Decide which are best arguments, and in which order to use them. Basically you are building an argument why it is in the company's interest to change your rate of interest.

Factors to consider are:

  • Telling the company about your health condition could be helpful in the negotiation. It may seem like a credit card company is a large, non-caring corporate entity. In reality, you're talking with people who may be sympathetic to your situation.
  • What caused the financial crunch? Was it something unexpected and beyond your control such as medical bills?
  • How long you've been with the company. (The longer the better.)
  • Your history with the company. For example, the average amount you've charged each month, and your history of paying on time. (Credit card companies want to keep people who give them a lot of business -- particularly people who pay a lot of interest.)
  • The credit card offers you (or your friends) have been getting in the mail. What rate of interest have those cards offered? How do those compare to the rate you're paying? (It would help to gather current credit card statements and any pre-approved applications so you can quote the rates precisely.)
  • If the rate were low enough, would you be willing to transfer a balance from another account to the one in question?
  • Keep in mind:
    • The company is making money off of you. You're in the driver's seat.
    • A creditor would rather work with you than end up with a vastly reduced sum if you go into bankruptcy.
    • You can threaten to stop using the card entirely.

When you're ready, call each card company. The phone number is on your card or on the application. Let the person know you are calling to obtain a reduction in the rate you pay on your credit card. Is the person authorized to make a change? If not, ask to speak with a person who can authorize a reduction -- generally a supervisor.

Expect arguments like "our rate is fixed." Be persistent but firm until you get a yes. The card company (especially if you already have the card) won't want to lose you. Key questions are:

  • "What can you do better for me" and
  • "Is there a different card you can offer me with a better rate"?

If the representative you speak with balks at lowering your rate, ask to speak with his or her supervisor.

Pay Down The High Interest Rate Credit Cards First

Because credit cards usually have the highest interest rates of any of your debt, you should pay off any credit card debt you have as quickly as possible -- even if this means using your savings.

If you spend $1,000 to pay off a credit card with a 17% interest rate, it's as though you've earned a guaranteed, risk-free 17% after-tax return on your investment. It's really difficult to beat that with any other investment.

Should you need cash in an emergency, you can take a cash advance from your cards. If your statistical life expectancy is less than two years, just make sure that you have credit life insurance on the cards.

For tips on paying down credit card balances as quickly as possible, see How To Pay Down A Credit Card Balance As Quickly As Possible.

Transfer Balances To A New Account Or To An Account With A Lower Interest

Another alternative for dealing with credit card debt is to move the balance from a card with a higher rate of interest to one with no or a lower rate of interest.

In theory, this seems like a good idea. We say "in theory" because if you miss one payment, you may be socked with a major rate of interest and penalties.

If you use this technique:

  • Be sure to make payments on time.
  • Keep track of when the interest rate increases. Before the increase takes effect, look to see whether the balance should be moved to another less expensive card.

Before you make the transfer from a credit card with a higher amount of interest to another credit card, watch for balance transfer fees-fees charged for transferring a balance from another credit card. While it may sound like a no-brainer to switch from a higher rate of interest to a lower one, this may not be the case once you add in the transfer fee(s). Do the math.

Be careful of a low "introductory rate" that most cards offer. This rate may be in effect for only two to six months. Once the introductory rate is over, the rate could sky rocket. Set an alert in your calendar for when the rate will increase. If you haven't paid off your debt by then, consider switching once again.

If you don't already have a no or low rate of interest account, you can find such accounts on line at web sites such as offsite link. At this site you'll find companies that solicit transfers -- offering no or low interest on an introductory basis. You are also likely to receive similar offers in the mail.

Once the account is open, transfer as much of the debt as you can to the new account. Some credit card companies will actually make the transfer to the new account for you. All you have to do is call the credit card company and ask.

If this system doesn't work, you can transfer from one credit card to another by writing a check on the account to which you want to move the debt. The check would be payable to the credit card company from which you are moving the debt. If writing a check for this purpose is considered to be a cash advance, and subject to a higher rate of interest, call the credit card company. Let them know what you intend to do and ask for a lower rate.

If you have a short life expectancy: Keep your old credit cards open even after you've transferred the balances from them. You may need the borrowing power. Be aware that having too much credit and too many open credit lines can damage your credit rating. However, that can be a small price to pay to have the ability to get cash for unexpected medical expenses.

Consolidate Your Credit Card Debt Into Non-Credit Card Debt

There are various ways you can roll your credit card debts into one debt. The goal is to end up with a lower rate of interest, and only one payment a month to make.

Special thanks to:
Joseph Daniel
New York, NY

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