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How to handle credit card bills during an emergency


Fallen trees block a street as Hurricane Irma howls past Puerto Rico after thrashing several smaller Caribbean islands, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico September 6, 2017.

Alvin Baez | Reuters

Fallen trees block a street as Hurricane Irma howls past Puerto Rico after thrashing several smaller Caribbean islands, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico September 6, 2017.

“Those are things that matter to them,” says Paul Golden, spokesman for the National Endowment for Financial Education. “The higher your credit score, the more likely your creditors are (to be) willing to work with you. But the bottom line is they want to get paid.”

Call your credit card issuer using the phone number on the back of the card. It may be an emotional time, but remember that this is a business call. Stick to the topic at hand: how you can keep your account in good standing.

Negotiate payment dates, interest rates, late fees — even a credit limit increase, if you have good credit and need a short-term increase in spending ability in the wake of the emergency. Talk about whether the issuer will report nonpayment to the credit bureaus.

During the call, document details of the conversation, noting dates, dollar amounts and whom you spoke to.

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