"It's not like a traffic violation where you get a warning," McClary said.
McClary recommends seeking help from a credit counselor as early as possible, a service that can be found in every major city at low- or no-cost, he said.
And if you're well down the road to default? Foguth recommends trying to negotiate a lower interest payment plan with the credit card company, or even an interest-free period. Credit card companies have an incentive to work with consumers, he said, because if they don't pay their bills, the debt will be sold to a debt collector, a scenario in which credit card companies only recoup pennies on the dollar.
And the most drastic step that Foguth recommends when credit card debt gets extreme?
"Weigh the option of letting them all go," he said. "Closing cards (while negotiating a payment plan for the balance due) may be the only smart move left."
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