Knee Deep in Credit Card Debt?

October 14, 2008

Columbus, GA-(WTVM)- It seems Wall Street bankers weren't the only ones living on the edge. A new report shows, nationwide, late credit card payments are up 14%

According to the Federal Reserve, Americans have swiped total credit card balances to a whopping $1 trillion.

Credit bureau TransUnion reports the average debt per account is more than $1700.

So how can consumers pay it off?

"Long term wise, you really want to pay off higher interest debt first," says Lerone Harper of Consumer Credit Counseling Services of West Georgia/East Alabama.

Harper says that should free up money to tackle other accounts.

No matter what though, experts urge consumers to negotiate, especially if they're having trouble making the payment.

"If you have to pay them $50 and you can't pay them $50, some creditors will take $30, some will take $25, but you have to make it known, they have to know the situation," Harper says.

Experts also warn consumers to be mindful of penalties and late fees.  Plus, many credit card companies have started to cut credit limits and even change interest rates over the past few weeks.