Since it’s invention in the 1950s, credit cards have loomed over the American households collecting debt. According to the US Census Bureau, the average American household in 2018 had an average of nearly $7000 in credit card debt and, for many, it may seem as if a person can never be truly free of that debt.
However, there are several easy ways that can help effectively lower your debt over time without completely breaking your budget.
First Step: Know Your Debt
Before we can begin addressing your credit card debt, you first have to know what it is. How much do you have in credit card debt? Not just the general amount either. If you have a specific time frame for when you want to be debt free (1 year, 5 years, 10 years), it is also important to remember the interest rate for those cards.
Once you have that number written down, we can begin to fix your credit issues.
Change Your Approach to Monthly Payments
Credit cards develop interest based on daily activity. With this in mind, paying a little bit more each month or making multiple minimum payments throughout the month can help reduce the interest charge on your monthly total. This technique will not only help you pay off your credit cards faster, but it can also help to boost your credit score. Don’t have enough to do either technique? Even paying your credit card bill early can help to lower your average daily balance.
Pay Off the Lowest/Highest Card First
There are two popular methods to pay off your credit cards that involve focusing on paying off your cards one-by-one. The first, the Snowball Method, involves paying the minimum amount of every card before using what you have left to pay off the card with the lowest balance. The other method, the Avalanche Method, focuses on interest rates rather than balance. Users of this method pay off the card with the highest interest first before focusing on the card with the next highest.
Ask for a Lower Interest
Did you realize that you can call your credit card company and ask to lower your interest rate? When you sign up for a credit card, it may seem like the interest rate is the be-all-end-all. However, if you have good credit and have kept up with payments then there may be a chance that you can lower your rate with your current company. It may also help to mention if you’ve considered transferring your balance to a company with a lower interest rate.
Consolidate Your Debt
Rather than taking care of multiple payments throughout the month, it is possible to consolidate your debt into one, slightly larger payment. This can be done by taking out a loan from a bank, private loan company, or even a per-to-per lending program then using that loan to pay off your credit cards.
Hide Your Cards
The easiest thing you can do is to hide any cards with high balances already on them. These are the cards you want to pay off NOW and not incur any more debt on. Set them aside while you work on paying off the balance to make to temptation away. When you do pay off the card, don’t close the account. This can damage your credit score which is determined by how much credit is being utilized versus the amount that you have to your name.