Looming credit card debt may be next crisis

By Jonathan Spicer

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Top financial executives see no quick end to the global economic storm, warning this week that the current crisis could hold more surprises due to looming credit card debt.

The United States is leading the world into a recession, and perhaps worse, and executives at the Reuters Global Finance Summit said it was hard to make any predictions due to a dire mix of bruised markets, strained governments, and a worried public.

But some things are clear.

“You have to believe that we have frightened the American consumer pretty deeply here,” said Ed Clark, chief executive of Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), North America’s seventh-largest bank.

“It’s hard not to believe that they’re not going to go on strike for a period of time,” he told the Reuters Summit. “And it’s hard to see the positive element that’s going to save us from having a deep recession,”

Executives told the Reuters Summit the mortgage-inspired crisis infecting markets will likely be followed by even bigger problems borne out of growing credit card debt.

A credit card crisis “is waiting in the wings,” said John Whitehead, former chairman of Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan.

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How to Cut Credit Card Debt

by: Richard Townsend

Most Americans have too much credit card debt. Duh, we’ve all heard that
before, right? Only now its gotten a bit personal… right again? You
personally have too much credit card debt and its about to drive you crazy.

Well there IS hope so don’t file those bankruptcy papers just yet. One
major thing you have to keep in mind is your creditor is probably very
willing to work with you. Its in their best interest to have you making
some payment versus no payment. So here are a couple points to help you deal
with your credit card debt.

The first thing you have to do is simply contact your creditor and let them
know your situation. Ask for a lower interest rate or a repayment plan.
You might not have thought of it because you’re just naturally so polite but
its a very good strategy to be courteous at all times when negotiating with
your creditor. Polite, but firm. Come across as one who knows what you’re
asking for and expect to get it. If you’re not sure what you’re asking for
in the first place you might consider a reputable credit counseling service.
There’s a lot of great, honest organizations out there whose mission is to
help you work things out with your creditors.

Next you’ve GOT to stop using your cards. Cut them up, freeze them in a tub
of water, whatever you need to do to get them out of your wallet or purse,
do it! You simply can’t keep adding to the problem by running the debt up
any higher. This is actually one of the hardest parts of cutting your
credit card debt. Its like you’re addicted to spending money you don’t
have. So go cold turkey and drop the habit.

Start paying the ones with the highest interest rate first and work from
there. How do you do that? Concentrate on those high interest rate cards
by paying more than the minimum balance each month. The minimum is just
designed to keep you on the hook longer anyway. The credit card companies
are in this business to make a profit and want to have you paying them for
years to come. Even a little extra each month makes a big difference in the
long run.

Lastly, keep your chin up and have a good attitude. Millions of folks just
like you have begun to cut their credit card debt by following the common
sense steps outlined above. You can do it too. Good luck.