The average amount of credit card debt for American households is over $15,000. Credit card providers take advantage of the more than 45 percent of families that have a credit card. Credit cards can be great when paying for things you need and not having the money to do so. They can also be used to build a line of credit, reducing interest rates on things like mortgages and loans. However, this payment method can become a problem when debt comes into play and when you’re consistently two steps behind and can never seem to catch up with yourself. This is when interest rates, late payment fees and collections calls become a literal nightmare in your life. There are a variety of things you can do to manage and even get rid of your credit card debt.
Work on Eliminating One Card at a Time
If you have multiple cards, it can seem like an effort in futility to get all of these cards paid off in full and become totally debt-free. It will give you instant gratification to work on one of those cards at a time, make higher payments on what you owe and get rid of the card for good. This does not mean, however, that you should ignore making the minimum payment on all of your other cards while targeting the one you want to get rid of.
Ask Creditors for a Lowered Interest Rate
Credit cards have notoriously high interest rates and this can be exasperated if you took out the card while dealing with a bad credit score. If things have changed over the years and your FICO score has gone up, consider asking your creditors for a lower interest rate. Lowering your interest rate will have an immediate effect on your credit card payments, reducing them to a more reasonable and affordable amount. Even if your score has not changed, you could still get a lower rate if you go through the proper financial department.
This is a relatively tricky tactic that many people use if they are facing debt problems and have multiple credit cards. Try transferring the balance on a higher interest card to a lower interest one, thus reducing your payments long-term. The reason this can be dangerous is because credit card companies will often change their rates after the initial introductory window. Your low interest card right now may sky rocket to a ridiculous rate after about 12 or 18 months when the introductory window becomes closed.
Take Out a Loan to Pay Off Credit Card Debt
So long as you have a decent credit score, you should be able to get approved for a personal loan at a much lower rate than any credit card would ever be able to provide to you. This is because the average interest rate attached to personal loans is 7.39 percent, whereas the average interest rate for credit cards is 18 percent. This huge variable could mean the difference between consolidating your debt and eliminating credit cards to being stuck in a never-ending cycle of minimum payments just to avoid collections.
Make More Than the Minimum Payment
When you put more money towards your credit card payment than just the minimum amount, you’re putting more of your funds towards the balance you actually owe. Many people find that making two minimum payments each month helps to get that amount paid off without too much interest accumulating during the process.
Stop Using Your Credit Card
Unless it is an absolute emergency, stop using your credit cards to pay for things. Buying new clothing, making purchases at the mall or paying for fast food using your card can critically increase your monthly payments. Put your credit cards away for good and only use them in an emergency situation, such as when a car breaks down, a home appliance stops working or a medical bill comes into play.
When you are able to work on your credit card debt to reduce or even eliminate it entirely, you can finally live debt-free. Credit card companies know how easy it is to fall into debt, and they take advantage of this by having high interest rates and a never-ending cycle of payments.