There are effective ways and not-so-effective ways to deal with missing a credit-card payment.
Chris Luder used a credit card for years without problems, but then he hit hard times in 2006. He needed tongue surgery that cost him close to $2,000. He had to pay another $1,000 or so when his truck suffered two hit-and-run accidents in one month. Luder, a graphic designer in Houston who was in his mid-twenties at the time, hadn't had a chance to amass the savings to deal with such misfortunes. He ended up turning to credit card companies for help.
They weren't his friends. In October 2006 Luder was late making a payment on a credit card from JPMorgan Chase(JPM), and the New York firm jacked his rate up to 29% from 6%. When Luder called Chase to say he wanted to repay the $2,500 he owed but he didn't know how, he says he got little help. "It's this automated service or a guy in the basement, and he's like, 'we don't negotiate rates,'" Luder says. "They didn't care."
Chase Card Services spokesman Paul Hartwick says his firm's details of this matter are "inconsistent" with those given by Luder, but he declined to provide specifics about the case, citing privacy concerns. Chase advisers have tools they can use in certain cases, including the ability to reduce a card member's interest rate. The bank can also waive its customers' late or over-limit fees, and design payment programs to help them through stressful periods. "We always welcome the opportunity to talk with our customers," Hartwick adds.