How to settle your credit card bills for less

Americans collectively owe a lot of money to credit card companies. For many, those amounts may seem impossibly large, especially when card companies raise interest rates and add all sorts of fees and penalties to sour your bill even further. Before you throw in the towel and consider bankruptcy, though, here's a little-known secret that might help get you out from under that "impossible" debt: You can negotiate with credit card companies and bill collectors to pay or "settle" your debt for less than what you owe.

Don't look so skeptical! Yes, this can be done, and yes, it's legal. Author Ken Golde even wrote a book detailing how to do it after he found himself in debt to the tune of more than $200,000 after his business partner passed away suddenly. To help you out, we got Golde, along with some other debt-management experts, to offer their best tips and advice for getting rid of some of your debt.