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By Alina Machado • Published November 10, 2020 • Updated on November 10, 2020 at 7:04 pm

Elvira Maldonado may be employed, but she says the pandemic did not spare her finances.

“The major impact has been monetarily,” she said.

The long-time flight attendant says her seniority of 33 years with an airline has helped her avoid the furloughs that have hit the industry.

“But the hours were reduced,” she said. “The trips were not there or they were canceled.”

As a result, Elvira says she has seen her income drastically shrink in recent months.

Even though she has been able to pay her mortgage, Elvira says she asked her credit card companies for help.

“And two of them were very helpful,” she said.

A third company, she says, would only offer her a deferral of her monthly payments, while she continues to rack up more than $150 a month in interest rate charges.

“It’s a lot of money,” she said.

She says her offer to pay a portion of the balance up front, as a way to settle the debt, was denied.

“My biggest fear is that if they don’t come to an agreement for a settlement, that I may have to do bankruptcy,” she said. “And I really don’t want to do that.”

But according to Ted Rossman, an industry analyst for Creditcards.com, a debt settlement should be a last resort.

“It’s very bad for your credit score,” Rossman said. “It’s actually almost as bad as bankruptcy. It could trim 100 points potentially off your score and that could last for many years.”

That’s why Rossman says if you’re struggling to pay your credit cards and have been unable to get relief on your own, a better option would be to reach out to a non-profit credit counseling agency for help.

“They can come up with a debt management plan, often lasting three to five years,” he said. “They can try to work within your income to make it affordable. They can negotiate on your behalf with the card company to try to get a lower interest rate.”

If you want to connect with a credit counseling agency, Rossman recommends going with one that is accredited by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

To learn more, click here:  https://www.nfcc.org/