Q: If it's going to get bad three months after, how long will it last (the hard part) and when does it start getting better? If I have the house and car, and don't expect to need credit for five years, do I need to worry about the credit score? And...are they generally willing to settle for a lump sum when I pursue this path? If I give up, can I expect BofA, Discover, Citi, HSBC, and US Bank to accept a settlement in three to six months? (The cards range from $3,000 to $8,000.) More Background: I can't do bankruptcy because it will invalidate some of the contracts I rely on to run my business. My credit can go to hell and it won't matter, but a BK filing will put me out of business. The 720 credit score is the result of literally years of sacrificing putting food on the table for my kids to make the payment, or even living a "normal" life that we work hard for. Wife and I both have full-time jobs (me during the day, her in the evenings), but we barely see each other because I get home and she leaves...all to make sure the credit card companies get paid. My house is underwater by $30k, my car is underwater. Technically insolvent, yes, but BK is not an option. Have we learned our lesson? Yes! We haven't used the cards since 2008. They're open and we pay, but no charges. Whatever we decide, we will never be back in this position again. (Aside: We cut everything years ago. No cable TV. No home phone. No meals out, vacations, etc. Every penny we make goes to the mortgage, car, insurances, groceries, credit cards, taxes.) I can deal will calls from creditors, letters, etc. Freeing up the $1,000 a month in payments will give us such peace of mind financially that (if I know what to expect) I won't be stressed by phone calls. In my business, I've developed a thick skin so empty threats and lies won't phase me. I'm not looking for someone to validate my decision to not pay (I haven't made that decision yet), but more input on what to expect and whether throwing my hands in the air, accepting the damage, and swallowing the tough pill today is worth it.