Mary Grace McCormick, Credit Writer
American Express rarely negotiates debt settlements directly. Unlike other large banks, American Express does not have an internal debt settlement division. Amex accounts can be sent to collections agencies (such as Zwicker and Associates) after a few missed payments, as a result. You can find out who to contact regarding your debt by referring to the latest notice you’ve received, and then attempt to reach an amended payment agreement.
If your American Express debt has not been sold to a debt collection company, you can take advantage of Amex’s financial hardship program, provided that you request assistance within a few months of missing payments. This is more a debt management plan, rather than debt settlement. If you pursue this option, Amex will work with you to setup a payment plan spanning from six to 12 months, depending on the debt. You can pursue this option for your unsecured debt (personal loan or credit card) via online chat or by calling customer service at 1-866-703-4169.
If your Amex debt has been farmed out to a debt collector, you can no longer pursue the financial hardship program and will need to settle with the collection agency. When it comes to negotiating your Amex debt with collection agencies, your experience will vary based on the particular agency. You can probably expect to settle for 30% – 60% of the original balance. Factors like length of repayment and time since the last account activity help drive the ultimate settlement amount.
Bottom Line: American Express offers a financial hardship program to help manage your debt in the short term. If you’re more than a few payments behind, you will have to negotiate a debt settlement with the collection agency assigned to your case.
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