Credit Card Facts

The average consumer carries around $20,000 worth of credit card debt and pays close to $400 a month on that credit card debt. The average interest rate on credit cards in the United States is 15% APR. So if you take the time to figure out the statistics you will find that over the life of your credit card debt you will end up paying back the credit card company $70,003.50 for the $20,000 you borrowed. It would also take you 175 months or 14.58 years to completely payoff your credit card debt.

If you choose to enter into a Debt Settlement program with $20,000 on average your total amount of debt would be reduced to $11,600 including the debt settlement company’s fees. You would end up saving a total of $50,003.50 in interest and a total of $8,400 in your principal balance. Making your grand total savings of $58,403.50! If you continue paying $400 per month in a debt settlement program you will be completely debt free in 33.14 months. Under 3 years!!

Interest rates

Interest rates vary widely. Some credit card loans are secured by real estate, and can be as low as 6 to 12% in the U.S. (2005). Typical credit cards have interest rates between 7 and 36% in the U.S., depending largely upon the bank’s risk evaluation methods and the borrower’s credit history. Brazil has much higher interest rates, about 50% over that of most developing countries, which average about 200% (Economist, May 2006). A Brazilian bank-issued Visa or Mastercard to a new account holder can have annual interest as high as 240% even though inflation seems under control at around 6% per annum (Economist, May 2006). Banco do Brasil offered its new checking account holders Visa and Mastercard credit accounts for 192% annual interest, with somewhat lower interest rates reserved for people with dependable income and assets (July 2005).[citation needed] These high-interest accounts typically offer very low credit limits (USD$40 to $400). They also often offer a grace period with no interest until the due date, which makes them more popular for use as liquidity accounts, which means that the majority of consumers use them only for convenience to make purchases within the monthly budget, and then (usually) pay them off in full each month.

Calculation of interest rates

Most U.S. credit cards are quoted in terms of nominal APR compounded daily, or sometimes (and especially formerly) monthly, which in either case is not the same as the effective annual rate (EAR). Despite the “annual” in APR, it is not necessarily a direct reference for the interest rate paid on a stable balance over one year. The more direct reference for the one-year rate of interest is EAR. The general conversion factor for APR to EAR is EAR=((1+APR/n)^n)-1, where n represents the number of compounding periods of the APR per EAR period. For a common credit card quoted at 12.99% APR compounded daily, the one year EAR is ((1+.1299/365)^365) -1, or 13.87%; and if it is compounded monthly, the one year EAR is ((1+.1299/12)^12) – 1 or 13.79. On an annual basis, the one-year EAR for compounding monthly is always less than the EAR for compounding daily. However, the relationship of the two in individual billing periods depends on the APR and the number of days in the billing period. For example, given 12 billing periods a year, 365 days, and an APR of 12.99%, if a billing period is 28 days then the rate charged by monthly compounding is greater than that charged by daily compounding [ .1299/12 is greater than ((1+.1299/365)^28)-1]. But for a billing period of 31 days, the order is reversed (.1299/12 is less than ((1+.1299/365)^31)). In general, credit cards available to middle-class cardholders that range in credit limit from $1,000 to $30,000 calculate the finance charge by methods that are exactly equal to compound interest compounded daily, although the interest is not posted to the account until the end of the billing cycle. A high U.S. APR of 29.99% carries an effective annual rate of 34.96% for daily compounding and 34.48% for monthly compounding, given a year with 12 billing periods and 365 days.

*Interest rate information from Wikipedia

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Credit Card Debt and the US Economy

The United States under Obama is just turning the corner as far as recession is concerned. But one factor that had contributed to some extant to the recession and financial crisis is the credit card debt in the USA. In terms of figures the credit cards in circulation are over 1.5 billion for a population of just over 300 million. This is a menacing ratio and translates to a credit card debt of over 600 billion. To this figure if we add the almost million bankruptcies in the United Sates than we can get an idea of how much the United States economy is affected.

America is presently the world’s largest economy though in the near future China may well over take it. Unlike in China in the United States 60 million households do not pay their outstanding balances in full. These are carried forward and classified as unsecured debt. This debt because of the low rate of clearance say 2-4% of the outstanding has resulted in a big economic problem resulting in a huge liability to a lot of people.

The reason for this debt is not hard to seek and has its genesis in the easy availability of credit and secondly the ease by which gambling on the net with credit cards can be affected. At a conservative estimate nearly 3 million Americans could be addicted to gambling. Bear in mind that the cumulative United states national debt is hovering around 5. 7 trillion. This is far exceeded by the total consumer debt of $6.5 trillion and one can imagine what this means. It really spells a very difficult financial situation bordering on a catastrophe.

The situation is compounded with an abysmally low saving rate of the American populace which presently is almost zero. In case one compares this with the savings rate in the eighties when it was around 8.5% then the magnitude of the problem can be understood.

The period of the late 90s of the last century saw immense prosperity for the people. But this was also the period when debt grew because of the easy availability of credit. Thus In the period 1989-2001 the debt almost tripled from $ 238 billion to $692 billion. The savings rate declined and bankruptcies rose up by 125%

This massive credit card debt has had a negative effect on the economy. In addition mounting mortgage and consumer debt is crippling the budget of most households. Large bankruptcies have set in like Lehman brothers and GM. The deregulation of Banking has also taken its toll as the real cost of corporate credit (prime rate) has increased only marginally (2.5%-3.0%) yet the real cost of consumer credit card debt has doubled from less than 6% to over 11%. The revolving of credit card debt to the next cycle amounts to nearly $11,000 per household.

To sum up, as things stand the vast US economy may in the years to come buckle downwards if the credit card debt is not reined in.

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Bankruptcy Alternatives

Before you make any decisions about filing bankruptcy make sure you consider all of your options. Here are some alternatives.

1. Judgment proof: This is the most basic alternative. Simply you have to take no action at all. With a very small income, if you owe money to creditors you may be considered as judgment proof also known as collection proof. That means if your creditor sues you, he just won’t be able to collect because you don’t have any thing which they can legally get hold of. So in most of the cases creditors may decide to write off your debts. But you have to keep one thing in mind that if your financial condition gets improved in future then you will not be consider as judgment proof any longer.

2. Call Creditors: Don’t try to shun off from the situations. It is always better to call the creditors and convince them about your financial situations. They may come up with an alternative pre-payment plan which can get you out of this catchy situation.

3. Chalk out the Budget: Before arriving to any decision of filling for bankruptcy, take a good look at your detailed information of monthly income and monthly expenses. This will help you in better understanding of your resources and a more organized way that you can avoid bankruptcy.

4. Balance Transfer: In some cases you will be able to transfer your loans from higher interest rates to lower ones. You can also apply for a new credit card which can offer low interest rates, but be sure of the introductory lower rates as they do not serve the purpose.

5. Refinancing Loans: If you are credit worthy or in good books of your creditors you can get a refinance with better terms which can help you to clear off the previous debts to higher rates.

6. Negotiations and Settlement: If you are confident enough that this adverse, tricky financial condition is temporary, then with Negotiation and Settlement with your creditors your benefits are higher. In this process you have to negotiate with creditors and work out a new re-payment plan. There are many competent settlement companies that will help you get into the right payment program and help you become debt free in less then 36 months.

7. Credit Counseling Services: Instead of negotiating personally you can contact these agencies which normally are nonprofit organizations and you can find them on United States Trustee’s associated website. These agencies work with the aim of reduction of interest rates or full amounts of debt.

8. Individual Voluntary Arrangement: It is a good alternative to bankruptcy. It is a formal proposal by the individual to his/her creditors to re-pay a percentage of the total loans over a certain period of time (in most cases it is usually 5 to 7 years). With this alternative sometimes as much as 60 % of the principal amount is written off. Even monthly payments can be kept very low.

There has been a great increase in the number of people choosing the alternatives for bankruptcy. As there are many benefits like keeping our own assets, having no effect on professional qualification, no adverse effects on social status and credit scoring; you have to consider all your options carefully before filling bankruptcy.

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Debt Settlement Law Firm vs Debt Settlement Company

Unless you have been living under a rock, you should understand that the American marketplace has seriously gone down south. People have been losing work, their places of residence, and many their sanity. A single difficulty that has pretty much been haunting consumers since this has occurred is large amounts of consumer credit card debt. Debtors can be found trying to beat large monthly premiums that practically never seem to go down plus interest rates that are totally absurd. One plan that has been truly proving to be a success for most consumers is credit card debt settlement; however there are two forms of debt settlement programs. Currently, there are business models that can be setup using a lawyer and then programs that can be set up with a standard service. The former is what will be able to really present debtors a great possibility to become debt free in the least amount of time with the least amount of concerns.

With a credit card debt settlement program, the debtor must fall into delinquency on their minimum payments and save money on the side. This will allow them to in time work out a one time lump sum payment and close the deficit out. Oftentimes the consumer can salvage about half what they owe plus find themselves out of debt in just a couple years. That is very good; however there are a couple downsides with debt settlement that can make using a lawyer more beneficial to the consumer. For starters once you fall past due on the debts the lenders can try to gather the balance due through calls. A law firm has the ability to lawfully limit collection agencies from constantly harassing the client, at which a company cannot. One more downside to the debt settlement plan will be the potential for getting sued. With having retained a law firm, then they will lawfully interact with and still negotiate with a bank who will be making an effort to take somebody to the courtroom. This is a great selling point for people when using a debt settlement law firm over a company.

Consequently if you have found you and your family to be jammed in extreme measures of consumer credit card debt then contacting a debt settlement law firm is probably an exceedingly prudent idea for you and your family’s economical safety. Being caught in personal credit card debt which will by no means go away is a very bad economic move to make and can make investing savings almost impossible for the regular American. You should come to grasp how much more comfortable month to month bill handling might turn out to be when you no longer need to worry about expensive credit card expenses that must be paid with no ending in view.

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5 Ways to pay off debt

There are 5 ways to get rid of debt and lead a stress-free life. But what’s important is that you choose the one that works for you.

1. Interest rate arbitration: This is where you choose an independent third party to negotiate low interest rates with your creditors. So, you can consolidate multiple bills with one low monthly payment. This is also known as loan consolidation. The benefits are:

  • Pay less each month
  • One monthly payment instead of many
  • Credit score improves

2. Debt management: This is where you work with a debt solutions company to help you pay off your debts and create a budget. The benefits are:

  • Interest is reduced
  • Late fees may be waived off
  • Manage multiple bills with ease

3. Debt settlement: This is where you have a settlement company/law firm working with your creditors to lower your payoff amount by 40-60%. With settlement, you have 2 major benefits:

  • Creditors reduce interest
  • They cut your principal balance

4. Chapter 13 bankruptcy: Chapter 13 is a court monitored debt repayment plan. The benefits are:

  • Creditors reduce interest on your debt
  • They trim the principal debt balance
  • You don’t use your assets to pay off debt

5. Chapter 7 bankruptcy: This is where you hand over your assets to a court-appointed trustee who sells them off and uses the sale proceeds to pay off your debts. With Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you get the following benefits:

  • Interest on your debt is lowered
  • Principal balance is reduced

However, your credit score takes a hit and it’ll take quite a few years till you actually rebuild your score.

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Legal services we offer

As a leader in financial legal services, Consumer Legal Center has added many programs and products over the years.  Below are some of our practices we specialize in with calculators, forms, and other tools to help you start your process.  However our work is customized for each client with services beyond what’s listed so please contact us when you are ready to start.  On this page you can learn, in detail, about our core services before you contact us to learn how we can help your specific situation.

Consumer Law:
» Debt Settlement
» Bankruptcy
» Short Sales
» Personal Injury

Criminal Law:
» Juvenile Defendant
» Alcohol Charge
» Drug Charge
» Embezzlement
» Violence Charges
» Sex Crime
» White Collar Crimes
» Theft Charges

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