Credit card debt is a weight that many Americans carry on their shoulders, hoping not to make any more purchases until the debt is paid off. It can be difficult to tell what the best strategy is for paying off this debt and how it will affect your long-term financial situation.
In a recent survey conducted by Kiplinger, sixty-five percent of respondents said they carried an average balance of $2,300 on their credit cards. This statistic makes it clear that there are a substantial number of Americans in the country with significant credit card debt.
So, what is the best way of paying off credit card debt? How can you be sure you are making the right decisions for your bank account and overall financial health? Here are 10 ways to pay off your credit card debts.
Paying Down Card Balances
The simplest way to pay off credit card debt is by making multiple payments toward the balance on your statement. It’s also more profitable than paying just the minimum amount, which is generally around 2 percent of the original purchase price.
Of course, this method only works if you have more than one item with a balance on it, but it can make a significant difference in the amount of interest you pay. It’s also more advantageous to pay off higher-interest cards first, even though it feels like more of an accomplishment if your low-balance card is paid down first.
Request an Account Review or Credit Limit Increase
You can also request a review of your account and ask for a better interest rate in the hopes of reducing the amount of time it takes to pay off your debt. You might be shocked when you receive an offer to lower your interest rate, but it’s worth talking with creditors about getting more favorable terms on larger balances.
However, you shouldn’t be afraid to request a credit limit increase if you’re doing everything you can to pay off your debt and stay within your budget. The best way to handle this situation is by getting a copy of your credit report and finding out what score the creditor will use to make their decision before you call them up and ask for an increased spending limit.
Cancel Unused Cards to Reduce the Number of Cards You Have
If you’re carrying multiple credit card balances, then you might want to cancel some of your older cards that have a high number of outstanding balances. It’s usually best to leave at least two or three cards active and in good standing for emergencies.
Canceling all but one or two cards will make it easier to manage your credit. You’ll have fewer cards to keep track of and will be more likely to pay off the balances on your active accounts.
Make Minimum Monthly Payments on Time
It’s important to make your minimum monthly payments on time every month to keep the card issuer from reporting late payment information to the three major credit bureaus. This can do serious damage to your credit score and could even cause the creditor to raise the interest rate on your account as a penalty for making late or missed payments.
Increase Income to Repay Debts Faster
If you’re just making the minimum monthly payments, then it will take a long time to pay off your debts. You might be able to speed up the process by increasing your income before paying down your debt.
For example, if you get a raise at work or enter into another source of passive income like freelancing, then this extra money can be used to pay off your credit card debt. Be sure to increase the amount of money you set aside for savings before you start paying extra toward your credit card balance, however, because you’ll need an emergency fund in place if something goes wrong.
Look for Third-Party Help
The internet is a treasure trove for people struggling with credit card debts. There are many programs available that can help you pay off your debt without having to spend more than a few minutes every day on the process.
There are often free calculators for determining how much money you can save by using these services, but some of them charge a percentage of your payment as the fee for their service. Be sure to calculate the overall price of the program to determine whether it’s worth using their services. Another way of consolidating your debt is by reaching out to individuals or even dating rich men through a sugar daddy site.
Pay More Than the Minimum Payment
I know this sounds obvious, but sometimes it’s easy to forget until you’re faced with a statement that reminds you of how much money you haven’t paid toward your balances.
It’s best to start by paying the amount listed as the minimum payment before trying anything else. If there is any extra money in your budget at all, then use it to make an additional payment to your account. This will reduce the number of months you have to spend making payments and save you money in interest.
Also, consider taking out a personal loan that matches the amount owed on each credit card or installment loan. You can then use this one payment to pay off all your debts at once. It will speed up the repayment process and save you money in interest.
Putting Remaining Balances on High-Interest Cards
You might have a card with a low-interest rate that has no balances on it, but you’re carrying larger amounts of outstanding debt on another card with a higher interest rate. While it’s not advisable to move all your balances to the new card unless you’re sure that you can keep up with the minimum monthly payments, some people find that they can pay off their more expensive credit card balances faster by doing this.
Use Automatic Drafts to Pay Credit Card Bills
One of the best ways to make sure that you never miss a minimum monthly payment is by setting up an automatic draft from your checking account. Most credit card companies offer this feature, which can be activated online or by calling their customer service department.
Using an auto-draft ensures timely payments without any effort on your part. If you are already having problems making your minimum payments, then you might want to stop using the card until you have paid off some of the balance.
Consolidating Debt by Taking Out a Personal Loan
If you have several different credit card balances, installment loans, or any other type of debt you are trying to pay off, then consider taking out a personal loan. As long as you can find a low-interest rate and manageable monthly payments for this loan, it will be easier to make all your debt payments on time.
A personal loan can also help you pay off your balances faster since you will have to make just one payment per month. If you have an especially high debt-to-income ratio, however, then you might not qualify for a new loan.
By following these ten tips, you should be able to pay off your credit card debt within five years. Once your accounts have been paid off, don’t start all over again by charging new purchases on the cards. Make a plan for how you will use cash instead of plastic from here on out so that you can avoid racking up more debt.