How you can expect to be treated if you fall behind on a credit card bill varies widely depending on what company you’re dealing with. I cannot claim to have dealt professionally with every company out there, but I have encountered enough to know what to expect with most of them. Here they are, organized in ascending aggression (meaning that the nicest ones are at the top, meanest ones are at the bottom).
1. Capital One. Aggression Rating: 10 out of 10.
I have literally seen Capital One sue a customer who had paid them religiously for years exactly three months after she fell behind on her payments. Not only did they sue her right out of the gate, but they hit her with lengthy discovery requests and basically boxed her in and left her no choice but garnishment or bankruptcy. If you aren’t rich enough to be immune to, say, an accident that leaves you hurt for 6 months of no income, you may want to avoid them.
2. Discover Bank, Issuer of Discover Card. 9 out of 10.
Discover is the only credit card company I have personally seen file an appeal when they lost a collection lawsuit. They almost never refer their accounts to debt collectors. They are definitely of the “sue first, ask questions later” mindset; so much so that they make personal injury attorneys look like timid lambs. That isn’t to say that you can’t work out a deal after you’ve been sued – if you’re uncollectable, then their collection lawyer may be able to settle with you. But don’t expect any kindness at the outset.
3. American Express. 7 out of 10.
Amex is also of the “sue first, ask questions later” mindset, but they seem to be a bit less attached to their lower-value accounts. For some reason, I don’t see many small claims suits from them, possibly because they work to make payment arrangements with people. Honestly haven’t had many chances to tangle with them in court as of yet.
Next Page: The more lenient credit card companies.
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