Hi, guess you found out the hardway of debt settlement company being waste of time and money.
Settling yourself with Amex lawyers goes like this:
You: " Let's settle for less"
Amex lawyer: " We'll knock off $50 for inconvenience and no interest if pay in full now"
Your other option is to hire a lawyer to negotiate for you. Will cost you $1k -$$1500 upfront. Lawyer will advise you they won't guarantee anything, but usually will settle for 50-60% paid at once. If you do payments, expect it to be 80%.
With Amex you can setup installment plan. They will give you upto 24 to 36 months to pay it off. If you settle for less than full amount they might not give Optima card. If you get Optima Card after 12 months and you'll be able to get back in with Amex. It is some thing to think about it to make it easier for your self. From my experience Amex is very easy to work with in the settlement and repaymets.